Snow days might become non-existent to future generations as remote learning becomes a norm for schools all across the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With this newfound way of teaching, schools can now continue classes online during big snowstorms instead of canceling classes as they did before.
Just take Dec 16, 2020 as an example. On that day, CNN reported that a powerful snowstorm had left 6 to 12 inches of snow in New England. Yet, despite a large amount of snow, schools and universities across Massachusetts did not cancel classes and give a snow day like they normally would. Instead, schools and universities had their students continue their classes online.
Students need education to succeed in the future, but they also need time to relax. Students were already stressed with school and their lives to begin with before the pandemic happened. However, with all the chaos that occurred in the past year, students are more stressed than ever. A story last year in Forbes said, “In fact, according to Wisdo, a peer-to-peer counseling community, ‘pandemic anxiety is almost three times more worrying to this age group than any other stress-creating experiences pre COVID-19.’ ” Students are now more depressed, anxious, and lonely than before due to the unpredictability of the world and the lack of control they have over their lives.
I have personally felt these emotions this fall semester as I struggled with a workload heavier than that of previous semesters and isolation from friends. These emotions were especially heightened as I went through the particularly stressful semester without the usual holiday breaks. And I am not the only one who felt this way in 2020.
It also does not help that we are losing precious time we could be spending with our families. Students need to get all the time they can to spend with their families because 2020 has made clear that relationships are important to maintain.
In the Forbes story last year, James B. Duke Professor of psychology and behavioral economics Dan Ariely said that to battle these negative emotions and regain control of our lives, students should find activities they can do that “provides some level of control and shows quick results.” Ariely gave examples of activities like baking, knitting, and exercising.
The problem with this solution is that students are far too busy with their ever-growing pile of schoolwork and personal issues to have time to do such activities. Many do not even have enough time to take a moment to breathe.
Snow days can provide students with this much-needed break from their chaotic lives. They can catch up on lost sleep, do whatever activities they desire, or spend time creating happy memories indoors with their family.
Students desperately need snow days now more than ever.
“It’s basically a free time for students to calm down and do their own things or whatever they want to do,” Murdock High School sophomore Andy Chen said of snow days, “And if some of the kids still have missing work, they can use that time to catch up before having to deal with new work that the teacher gives out.”
“It is a stressful time living during the coronavirus pandemic, so [students] need the happiness that comes from waking up and seeing the snow and knowing you don’t have to actually get out of bed and just go back to sleep,” Westfield State University sophomore, Britney Jackson said.
Jackson also said, “snow days are a reprieve for the teachers too because the teachers have to deal with kids who are a pain in the butt online even more than in classes.”
Westfield State University sophomore, Anna Salter, said that having a few snow days would be useful, especially for her friend.
“For my friend in high-school, she needs breaks,” Salter said. “It’s very very hard [for her] and a snow day would definitely, in my opinion, help her mentally as well as other students who are just being loaded with work. I think now more than ever a snow day would be so nice.”
Murdock High School senior Becca Graves said, “We have always had [snow days] and it’s always sweet, we can sleep in and do whatever. And I get that [schools] don’t want to have them because they can be remote, but we have had snow days since we started going to school and I think it’s kind of unfair to take them away.”
Graves added that she also wants snow days because it gives her time to shovel snow for her injured mother.
“I live with just me and my mom so when we do get snow, I have to shovel because she hurt her knee and shoveling is hard for her. So I have to get up wicked early and shovel a little or shovel while I’m in class and listen in, and neither are really preferable,” Graves said.
These students had different opinions on why snow days are necessary, but they all agreed that snow days are needed. However, the ultimate decision of whether or not to keep having snow days is up to the schools and right now. That decision does not seem to be in the students’ favor.
Yet schools should never forsake students’ mental health for education, especially now. Instead of looking at snow days as a lost school day, schools should think of snow days as Chen described “a time period where students can just calm down for a moment and be relieved from stress.”
Schools should keep this in mind: sometimes it’s okay to take a day off from school—especially when the world is starting to look a lot like the setting of a dystopian novel.
Email Yang Yi at [email protected]