Where did the joy of snow days go?

Snow days. Waking up from your alarm on what you think is a regular day of school and hearing those wonderful words from your parents, “Go back to bed! It’s a snow day!” was one of the most joyous experiences for children across Nebraska. 

That is, until Omaha Public Schools decided to turn snow days into virtual learning days. These virtual learning days do not accomplish anything within the ways of learning or education and permanently take away the joy and excitement of a snow day. 

We know this year has presented challenges unlike any other, so it is especially important to maintain student engagement even if winter weather gets in the way of learning at school,” Omaha Public Schools officials explained in a note sent to parents.   

Virtual learning is an ineffective strategy for any child to learn much at all, especially on a condensed schedule. Students only attend half their classes, either even or odd periods. Classes are 20 minutes long, starting at 8:30 a.m and ending at 10:30 a.m.

Teachers do not have enough time during the 20-minute class period to effectively teach a lesson, most teachers do not even make an attempt at teaching a lesson and allow students to leave after attendance is taken. 

Virtual learning days do not even accomplish the stated goals of keeping students engaged. Many students will either have a parent call to mark them sick or absent or will just not attend the class whatsoever. This is a reasonable route to take, as nothing is accomplished during the virtual learning class periods. 

This setup also permanently rids students of any joy or happiness that many previously would have received from a snow day. Especially younger students, who would be more likely to want to play in the snow or go sledding, do not have as much of an opportunity to be outside because of the virtual days. The virtual days keep kids inside when otherwise they would be outside having fun with family or friends. 

With the current rising temperature and shifting climate patterns, Omaha students only have so many more snow days that they will be able to experience. Climate Central reports that snow during Fall and Spring continues to decrease, and the number of days under the freezing point will also continue to decrease as well.

OPS must adopt Millard’s inclement weather day policy to make sure students are able to get the help they need while also being able to enjoy their snow days. Millard’s snow day policy allows children to work on their work asynchronously, while still allowing them to reach out to their teachers for help. This allows them to complete the work on their own time, and they only have to contact teachers if they are having difficulty completing an assignment. 

In summary, OPS’s inclement weather day schedule does not accomplish any of its goals and is completely ineffective at educating students and keeping them engaged. To allow for the highest amount of enjoyment to be taken out of snow days, OPS must shift their schedule.