No More Snow Days

Why would we?

We all have memories of snow days. The joy of watching snow fall and hearing your parents tell you that school was cancelled for the day. A free day! You could go back to sleep, for starters. And later, maybe you could go sledding with your friends. Hot chocolate when you got home. You could forget about the stresses of getting to school and getting home, much less the daily little competitions in class, or worse, in the hallways.

Did you know that there are numerous ways that students can find out ahead of time the likelihood that they will get a snow day? There’s this site and that one. And of course there’s an app for that - it’s called Snow Day Predictor.

I hate to be the grinch, but snow days are not freebies - they just get tacked on to the end of the school calendar, extending the school year for everyone, including teachers. And they are disruptive of learning, with many teachers reporting that getting students refocused the day after a snow day takes another day.

Now that we have learned so much about how to teach from a distance - for extended periods of time - why would we have snow days again, ever? Stay on track, get something done during the snow day, and pick up where you left off when it is safe to return to school?

Sure, it would probably be a good idea to move a few things around, and not expect too much on that day, moving something more significant or complex to another day a week or so hence. But that’s generally easy to do.

Let’s not forget that many K-12 students get breakfast and lunch at school, and a snow day precludes that. Indeed, school administrators are often taking that in to account when they make decisions about having a snow day or not. Not to generalize, but those students often also have technology or bandwidth issues as well. But if we could fund those, get them something to eat, and keep everyone home, that would be the better option. Everyone work from home that day. Stay safe. No commute.

So this is another way we should not need, post-pandemic to “go back to normal,” as discussed in last week’s post. But let’s pull the telescope out a bit for a minute.

What are the changes to work life that we will continue post-pandemic? Will we all suffer long commutes again, and go back to the office every day? If we have learned one thing it is that working from home can work. According to John Seabrook’s recent article in The New Yorker, we might work one to three days per week in an office, and the rest from home. Working from home is not perfect, but then - perhaps we have forgotten this - going to the office wasn’t perfect either. So we must be looking at a hybrid solution in the future, with greater tolerance for flexible work schedules than we had pre-pandemic.

If that is the case, another argument for no more snow days in school is to help train students to work productively from home. Because they are likely to be doing this - at least some of the time - in their future working lives.


Letters of Recommendation

Even before the pandemic, visiting museums around the world was already possible without travel. Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, virtual tours of hundreds of museums are available through the device of your choice.

One of my favorite museums is the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. It contains almost 95% of the output of this artist, a leader in the Abstract Expressionism movement in the middle of the 20th Century. My recommendation this week is that you click this link or visit the Clyfford Still Museum directly to sample his work. Or look around Google Arts & Culture for your favorite museum.

Q of the Week

The Q of the Week this week is a Quote from America’s bard Bob Dylan:

People have a hard time accepting anything that overwhelms them.

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