Whenever the temperature dips below 32 degrees, or the weatherman calls for as much as a flurry, students wait in excitement for their school to show up in the ticker at the bottom of the local news. Spoons under pillows and ice down the drain are superstitions most likely abandoned by high school students; however, the sense of anticipation does not fade like those symbolic traditions.
What does a snow day mean to high school students? For most, if not all, it’s a restful day where homework and tests are pushed back.
Junior Ian Burt said, “I get to catch up on sleep. [Snow days are] a mental break from the day in and day out monotony of school.”
Perhaps snow days aren’t as glorious as they appear at first glance. Students aren’t the only ones affected by weather induced cancellations. Parents and teachers also feel the effects of days off school. Parents and teachers don’t always brew hatred in their hearts for snow days. Some see it as a very positive and restorative break in the week.
Art Department Chair Mel Gaskins said, “You’re teenagers. Snow days mean you get to sleep! I think it’s really hard to switch from math to English to all your other classes. It’s nice to get to choose what to do without any stress in your PJs and a cup of hot chocolate.”
While it can be said that these mid-week breaks provide respite to otherwise stressed and tired minds, it can also be said that they create problems. However, these problems don’t reveal themselves in the moment. Now, I’m not trying to criticize teens for having absolutely no foresight, but it really does seem like there is no prudence when it comes to snow days.
Imagine this situation: It’s sometime after 6 p.m. and you haven’t finished your homework yet, but you don’t have much left. You saw the forecast, and your friends and teachers expressed excitement/concern for the impending weather. The phone rings, and it’s school. School is closed. Now what? Procrastination, obviously. Why do the homework tonight if there’s a whole day to do it tomorrow? Well, it would make sense to get it done so you don’t have anything to do on the snow day. The day passed, unproductively, and now you have to remember what you have to do for homework and try to guess at what tests and quizzes will be moved.
Teachers don’t always make it clear what their policy is regarding unexpected days off. It might say in their syllabus, but the greater odds are that the syllabus was never read at all. In most classes, students can look ahead in the schedule to see what homework is due; because of this, they are left to determine if the lesson plans can be ignored and assume that due dates will be set back to accommodate the precipitation, or if they are expected to have the work completed for the next day.
Test rescheduling can be a treacherous endeavor. Because the length of bells varies from day to day, teachers pick specific dates if they think their test will take the entire bell. When these sacred time slots are superseded by snow, it’s necessary to either cram the whole test into a shortened bell, move the test back, or shorten it. In some very rare cases, tests and quizzes are canceled, which can be a positive until it becomes time for exams and the chapter or section must be studied for the very first time. Rescheduling seems painless enough, but for altruistic teachers who have penned in tests for an otherwise stress-free day, a snow day may push their test into a packed day.
Maybe snow days are rather bothersome; I’m sure many teachers could agree. This is simply one perspective. In most cases, snow days are a safety precaution. Snow and ice can be deadly on roads, and extreme cold can cause frostbite in a matter of minutes waiting at a bus stop, so when especially stingy administrators call off school, don’t complain about the work load and confused schedule, because it is especially important to be cautious.