No More Snow Days?

In light of the winter storm that passed through central New Jersey over the weekend, The Outlook editors sat down to discuss their opinions about school closures due to inclement weather. The ongoing pandemic has regularly forced classes to migrate to a virtual format, raising questions as to whether or not this approach should be applied when students cannot safely travel to school due to dangerous weather conditions.

Monmouth University opted to implement a delayed opening on Monday, Jan. 31 as a result of the weekend’s snowfall, which ranged from eight to 15 inches throughout Monmouth County. Classes and University offices reopened at 10 am, after which campus operations resumed as normal. However, other schools in the area decided to cancel in-person classes for the day and instead chose to conduct them virtually as opposed to giving students the day off.

Most editors agree that classes should be canceled if the weather presents conditions that are too dangerous for students to travel to in-person classes, granting students a true “snow day” rather than having them learn virtually.

“I believe that we should still have snow days and that professors shouldn’t use Zoom,” said one editor. “Students and teachers have stated time and time again their distaste for Zoom and preference for in-person classes. While I understand the technology is at a point where we can have class online, students and teachers have had to stay online for almost two years and are sick of it.”

All editors agreed that just because educators have the ability to conduct classes virtually doesn’t mean that they should choose to do so. Although remote learning doesn’t require students to travel in potentially dangerous road conditions, students may experience other circumstances at home that prevent them from being able to attend classes virtually and learn effectively.

“I understand the convenience of staying on track, but people have caring circumstances when it comes to inclement weather,” explained a second editor. “I also believe in true snow days.”

“Classes should be entirely canceled in case of unexpected power outages and students having to tend to other responsibilities like shoveling and tending to loved ones, alongside any other important tasks,” added another editor.

The editors also discussed the importance of snow days for students’ mental health. Sometimes, an unanticipated break from the stress of classes is what students need to recuperate. Even though it is easy enough to send students a Zoom link in place of holding class in-person, a lot of students could use the break and do not learn nearly as well in a virtual setting. Oftentimes, it is more effective to simply give them the day off and teach the material in a classroom setting another day.

“Some students use snow days to catch up on any work they may have missed, rest, or do other things. When we didn’t have Zoom and when classes were canceled for the weather, that was the end of the story,” explained a fourth editor. “I think it should remain that way.”

Overall, the editors understand that professors and teachers want to utilize the new virtual teaching tools that have developed as a result of the need for remote learning during the pandemic. However, the editors also urge educators to consider other factors that may impede upon students’ ability to learn from home. Inclement weather affects more than just students’ ability to get to and from school. Many students also rely on snow days as a much needed break from the stress and anxiety caused by school, so they should be allowed to have snow days as mental health days.

Still, the editors agree that it was nice to finally see some snow after an abnormally warm winter season, and they hope to see more snow days where educators take their students’ wants and needs into consideration before holding classes on Zoom instead of letting them enjoy the snow.