A statement in the Nov. 22 RBHS communication newsletter revealed Columbia Public Schools (CPS) would continue using snow days as winter approaches, despite continued virtual learning and the possibility of its extension into the second semester.
The newsletter stated since virtual learning follows the same school year calendar as in-person learning, “virtual learning will adhere to the same winter weather cancellation policies and procedures as in-person learning options.”
If needed, the same policy of two-hour delayed starts or cancellations will apply in inclement weather conditions after roads are tested, and information will be available through radio and television stations, as well as through the district’s messaging system and website. The same would apply for in-person, in addition to the possibility of early dismissals.
Though this procedure remains the same as previous years, administrators also took into account how this would impact students’ virtual school routines.
“I also know that many students are getting in vehicles in the morning moving to learning pods, traveling with their parents to work, or moving to locations with consistent Wi-Fi,” RBHS Principal Jacob Sirna said. “Because some of our population still depends on travel to and from learning locations, snow days are still appropriate.”
Despite these scenarios, junior Addy Valerio disagreed with the decision. She questioned whether it’s really necessary in a “remote” learning setting.
“I understand that snow and the weather is an inconvenience to travel to certain locations, but it shouldn’t put a pause on a student’s learning,” Valerio said. “Because, in the end, remote learning is exactly that [independent]. It shouldn’t inconvenience students because of the weather and there is no need to have snow days.”
Though Valerio said snow days are unnecessary interruptions, Sirna and CPS Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark had different feelings. They emphasized the importance of this common winter tradition in maintaining a sense of normalcy in these times.
“My suspicion is that having a random snow day is good for our mental health,” Sirna said. “It serves as both a break and an excuse to get outside in these winter months.”
Similar to Sirna, Baumstark mentioned the sense of comfort and tradition a snow day brings. Both emphasized regularity and how they hope it will bring some joy, if possible, in an uncertain time.
“It’s also not lost on us that in a period of time when we have lost and given up so much of our traditional experiences,” she said. “Perhaps still being able to have a snow day might bring some happiness to our students and families.”
Sirna had some final thoughts on the snow day experience. Even if virtual learning continues into the second semester, he still considers this an important aspect of student life.
“I think there is something exciting that most students feel during snow days, and this won’t change in a virtual learning experience,” Sirna said. “Inclement weather days are a surprise free day that allow students to shed some stress even if for a brief moment. Pausing life and dedicating time to ‘play’ or self-care is always going to be positive for most people.”
How do you feel about the district’s decision to continue with snow days? Let us know in the comments below.