Managing Print Editor
3 January 2023
From the beginning of first grade, students have excitedly looked out the window to see several inches of snow. They would hurriedly check to see whether school was canceled, and to their delight, it often was. Elementary school students put on layers of warm clothes under their snow pants and coats to frolic in the snow. Middle school students hurry to text their friends the news in excitement. High school students would curl up under their blankets and prepare to sleep the day away. This time honored tradition should continue for many years to come.
On October 21st, HCPSS announced that up to three inclement days of the year can be used as asynchronous days. Assignments will be posted on Canvas for students to complete within ten days of being assigned. Printed copies will be made available, although the announcement did explain how they will be distributed to students. Major weather incidents, such as power outages, and any inclement weather days past the three day maximum will be used as traditional snow days. This policy became effective on November 4th.
“I know many of you, and your children, prefer traditional snow days. I am confident this plan will allow for that while also preserving the HCPSS academic calendar, including spring break,” said superintendent Dr. Martiano in the announcement. This new policy has been controversial. Students and teachers alike expressed displeasure with the idea of doing work on a day that has been traditionally used for play and rest.
When snowflakes begin to fall to the ground, students talk excitedly about the potential of snow days. Students obsessively check the weather to see if they can get a day off. They look forward to an opportunity to sleep in and catch up on homework. Similarly, teachers pray for a random day off in the middle of the week. It’s for these reasons why snow days should not be asynchronous.
“It makes school more bearable. The anticipation is always better than the actual thing. Just knowing or thinking that you’re going to have a day off is great,” said Atholton junior Micah Rao.
Teachers enjoy having a spontaneous day off from work. “I think it’s nice to have a surprise break in the cycle, especially in the winter months when we have a lot of five day weeks. It’s nice to break up the monotony,” said Mr. Stuppy. The consensus from Atholton students and staff is that having a spontaneous break is good for their mental health. Mrs. Hanna added that snow days are an opportunity for her to “reflect on assignments, relationships with students, and get a chance to look inwards.”
A snow day presents teachers and students alike with the opportunity to work on the ever growing pile of homework. Atholton junior Eva Mendoza said “I like to take the day and take a break from the taxing hours of school as well as catch up on any homework I have.” Being stuck in the house with nothing to do gives students a chance to complete any work that they didn’t have time to get to the night before. Teachers can also use the day off to grade or plan. Mr. Stuppy listed catching up on work as one of the many things he uses snow days for.
When asked what they like to do on snow days, students respond with sleeping in. “I like to stay at home and sleep,” said Rao. Atholton junior Ope Ogunmolawa said, “I like to sleep.” This is where snow days offer a tangible benefit for students, especially high school students. An article written by the National Sleep Foundation explained that “By almost all accounts, many teenagers in America are not getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep per night…45% of adolescents reported getting less than eight hours per night.” A day off from school allows students to rest and get the sleep their bodies so desperately need. “It’s nice from a mental health perspective to be able to turn off your alarm and roll over and go back to sleep some mornings,” said Mr. Stuppy.
As with all great things, there are flaws to snow days. When there are multiple days off in a row, it can be “disruptive” according to Mr. Stuppy. Losing needed time in the classroom can be detrimental to students and their education. Even if students choose to do work at home, it doesn’t compare to being in the classroom. Atholton sophomore Jaiden Anderson said “If you need that snow day to catch up on work, you can’t get a teacher’s help.” Even if these days are made up at the end of the year, the damage to the plans teachers have made has already been done. Additionally, no one enjoys having to make up the days when they could be enjoying their summer. “I don’t like it when it elongates the year,” Mrs. Hanna said. However, Rao offered an alternate perspective: “I prefer having periodic breaks instead of just going and going.”
Because of the pedestal snow days rest on, making three of them a year asynchronous days is clearly the wrong choice. Howard County has put in place several policies to improve the mental health of staff and students, such as Wellness Wednesdays, yet they take away a day that many use for a mental break. Expecting teachers to assign work and students to complete work on a traditional day of rest is ludacris.
Despite its flaws, snow days are a beloved part of the school year. Whether you’re using the day to catch up on work or take a mental break, snow days are a fantastic addition to any week.