Snow Days In A Post-Pandemic World

Snow days have changed in the midst of the pandemic. With an uncertain future teachers and students explore what they think will happen and what makes snow days special.

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Ceci DeYoung ’24 and Ella DeYoung ’23 on February 3rd getting coffee and warming up in the car. Photo courtesy of Ceci DeYoung.

 Every student has probably had that experience of waiting for a snow day, the excitement, the hope, the checking of the weather app about five million times the day before. A lot of things have changed due to the pandemic and snow days are no exception. With school being wherever the student is, snow days have become obsolete. No longer is the weather an obstacle to students learning.

But is that what students and teachers want, to be inside on a computer instead of being out in the snow? Is this a sign of things to come? Are we seeing the death of the snow day and the speedy replacement of its corpse with online school? To answer these questions I talked to West high students and teachers from the district to explain what their views and hopes are for snow days.  

Snow days are usually a staple of a midwest winter but with students and teachers being more comfortable with using technology this year due to the pandemic, snow days have ceased to exist. But we don’t know if they’re going to stay that way. Ceci DeYoung a West High freshman enrolled in the online program is one such student that has had to get familiar with zoom and online school. “I think that’s really likely that it’s just gonna switch to online school because we’ve all become so familiar with Zoom, and I think it’s easier for teachers just to have a day on Zoom and put up the assignments,” said Ceci DeYoung ‘24. 

 It seems most of her peers and most teachers have the same predictions for next year but Keith Enyart and Emily Hudachek two teachers in the district have different ideas. “It’s kind of too hard to demand, and require everyone to be online at the snap of a finger, from an educator’s point of view,” said Keith Enyart, a teacher at City. “I think we will have traditional snow days going forward. Attendance tends to be lower on virtual snow days, and I would think we would see more of this if we were 100% in-person,” said Emily Hudachek a teacher at West. 

Though there are mixed opinions on the future of snow days, one thing seems to be consistent, people’s desperation to keep them. Ninety-two point five percent of the 40 students surveyed said they missed snow days and 65% didn’t think having online school next year during weather events would be necessary for reaching the 1,080 school hour minimum. Seventy-five percent of teachers said they would prefer having no school during weather events. 

No matter how many people might want snow days to go back to the way they were simply because they like them might not be a valid reason for stopping innovation, but it’s not the only reason snow days are important to people. Ninety-two point five percent of students and 100% of teachers agreed that having the random small breaks that snow days bring throughout the wintertime can help to improve mental health and alleviate school stress.

I also think that the occasional day off is excellent for mental health, just to kind of do your own thing, go sledding, read a book. It’s okay to take a break, once in a while and we’ve gone through, what, 200 years of uninterrupted snow days, I think we’ve done a lot of good stuff in those 200 years. So I think it’s okay to have a day off.”

— Keith Enyart

School is stressful for everyone at some point not just students and not just teachers. “Everyone needs a day, a break from school every once in a while and without snow days, we don’t really get that it’s just constant school, and I think that can at times be unhealthy because I think even teachers need breaks from school,” said DeYoung ’24.

The unexpected surprise and anticipation of snow days, a day where you don’t have to worry about homework, social anxiety, and the draining process of physically going to school for eight hours to have to go home when it’s already dark is something that’s unique to snow days. Snow days’ unique experiences provide unique reasons for students to miss them. “The unexpected relief,” wrote one student. Another will miss “the anticipation leading up to them.” “Being able to just breathe,” wrote another student about why they missed snow days. These responses sum up a lot of the emotion surrounding snow days, not just as time off but as a way to escape the stressfulness of school and the dreariness that is a midwest winter. 

The Iowa City school district isn’t the only district in Iowa doing online school during snow days. Currently, the West Des Moines school district is also holding online classes for snow days this year. Cedar Rapids community school district on the other hand is not switching to online learning during snow days because even though every student has been issued a device there are still some people without access to reliable internet or internet. 

Snow days are important to a lot of people, students and teachers alike for a lot of reasons. If that be the break they provide from our busy schedules or the memories from early snow days when school wasn’t so stressful and the homework was a little bit easier. Even though we all have different reasons for wanting to keep them one thing is pretty universal, snow days are not a thing of the past. They still will live on in our hearts and memories.