The end of traditional snow days

Sleeping in past noon, going out to play in the flurries, snuggling up on the couch to watch movies with family and drinking hot chocolate. These are all common activities on a snow day.

Many schools in the suburban Illinois area are continuing on with the tradition of the snow days that we remember and love. Barrington is not one of them.

In Barrington, the traditional snow days are now behind us, replacing the fun-filled activities and days of relaxation with e-learning time. Zoom calls and schoolwork equal more screen time for both teachers and students, which is already a controversial subject among students and teachers everywhere this past year. 

Macy Cobb, freshman, remembers her favorite snow day moments from when she was younger. 

“I would hear the phone call and jump out of bed to go watch movies with my sister. My sister enjoyed the aspect of playing in the snow a lot. She and I would have snowball fights, go sledding and build snowmen together. These are some really great memories to look back on,” Cobb said.

However, Cobb has found the switch from traditional snow days to e-learning as a change that is taking away from the fun that traditional snow days would bring

“It’s a disappointment. I do not like this change because I don’t have anything to look forward to in the winter, like I did with snow days. There’s never that many anyway, but it made it special that they were so rare,” Cobb said.

Students nowadays are all too familiar with Zoom and online school, especially in the past year. For some, including Cobb, online school doubles the stress, making it harder to do work and have the motivation while sitting behind a screen all day. This is a common problem students face, and snow days would act as a break from the stress. 

With students already spending so much time in front of the screen, snow days added a break to this screen time. With online classes, students need to take breaks for themselves.

Elementary school students are quick to give their opinions on this change. 

“It’s not fun,” Landon Bauman, fourth grader at North Barrington said. “You can’t enjoy playing in the snow, and e-learning is miserable. I would definitely want a traditional snow day because you could stay home and enjoy the snow.”

This change is devastating kids everywhere, especially younger ones who are glued to their screens all day doing schoolwork, like Bauman, and want to enjoy the day off in the snowy weather.

Teachers also have thoughts about this change. Freshman English teacher Sarah Heldt sees both the positive and negative of this new change.

“If I look at it as I know any teacher or student in late May will, it is nice not to have to make up the snow days at the end of the school year. If I look at it as a mother through the eyes of my children who still want to play with me in the snow or snuggle with me by the fire, it’s a bummer. But truthfully, I’m going to make time for those sweet moments anyway!” Heldt said.

Kristin Janowiak, a freshman and sophomore math teacher said, “I do like the change.  While I enjoyed a random day off, I appreciate being able to stay on schedule with the curriculum and not have to make up extra days once summer hits.”

Even with this change to Barrington, students and teachers will still make time for themselves to do all of the snow day activities that they had before.

Heldt said that when she was younger her favorite snow day activities were, “sledding and snow forts, of course! My sister and I were lucky to have the perfect sledding hill in our backyard. The whole neighborhood came over with sleds and played outside until we were too cold to move. We built forts, had snowball fights–it was really fun. We always slept really well on those nights after playing all day!”

Janowiak also shares some of her favorite memories. 

I can remember going sledding with my friends and warming up with hot chocolate!”  Janowiak said.

Snow days can have joyful moments that make memories like these, but now they will be taken away. E-learning will continue on instead, whether students care for it or not. With all of the changes that were made, Heldt says that having to go all virtual and trying to teach that way has allowed her to learn a lot throughout the past year.

“Having just weathered a year of creative curricular adjustments in 2020, I think we’re all pretty tough,” Heldt said.

Janowiak agrees and elaborates on some of the career hardships from the school year.

“E-learning has been very challenging as a teacher.  I miss seeing and hearing students in my classroom working together.  You don’t get the same interactions over zoom and it’s hard to know how well students are understanding material,” Janowiak said.

But even with the challenges, both Heldt and Janowiak said that they do their best to roll with the punches and do what they can as teachers to adapt and help their students.

“In my twenty years as an educator, I have experienced, learned and grown from every single major shift in technological innovation. I readily embrace change and challenge, as do all lifelong learners,” Heldt said.

Even if students are not happy with traditional snow days coming to an end, like Heldt says, students and teachers alike will continue to grow and change with these changes and push through the challenges.

Days without school, playing in the snow and relaxation may be behind us, but students and teachers will find positive things to look forward to, even with the death of the snow day.

And hey, at least school won’t run into June now!