School board revises snow day plan

While shoveling snow at James Hill Elementary School, Chris Wejr takes a photo of the sunrise.

"Beautiful sunrise while I was shoveling snow at school this morning." by ChrisWejr is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While shoveling snow at James Hill Elementary School, Chris Wejr takes a photo of the sunrise.

Grant Stables, Staff Writer

Most students look forward to the time when they wake up prepared for another day of school, only to find that life has given them a break—a snow day. This year, the plan for snow days has been changed. Students now only get the first five snow days off and after that, will go virtual.

When Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced this change on Oct. 19, interviews done by The New York Times showed some parents may be against their children attending classes virtually as they’ve gone through that enough in the past year.

“Given everything [students] have gone through in the past two years, I know I’m not going to do anything torturous [for virtual school],” Latin teacher Stacey Kenkeremath said.

According to Principal Scott Poole, FCPS made this decision because the pandemic showed that students could be taught outside of school. This decision was not made by Poole but by upper-level members of the school board.

“[High schoolers] have a lot of work and [snow days] were the days I used to catch up,” senior Valli Ramanathan said.

Completing any missing work on snow days may not be a viable option as students and teachers have had less and less snow in recent years. How the five built-in snow days will be used if the schools don’t spend all of them before the school year is over remains to be seen.

“[If we don’t have snow days,] we should have a day off on a Monday or Friday in May or April,” sophomore Andrew Reynolds said. “I’ve looked at the calendar and that’s a pretty long stretch without any days off.”

The Atlantic says that the new snow day policy creates the problem for parents who now have to juggle their kids and their work simultaneously. A superintendent from Jefferson County Schools in West Virginia opted not to implement virtual snow days because he wanted to give students a break from having to live up to the expectations placed on them.

“Graduation gets planned in September, and they can’t make it earlier,” Kenkeremath said. “We’ve already got the date, and we can’t end school any earlier because of testing. I could see them giving us a workday so [students] could have the day off, but I don’t think they’ve ever done that before, and I don’t think they’re going to start now.”

Without this new system, snow days could cut into spring break and even extend the school year if the weather is extreme enough. Students will also have an easier time contacting teachers for help when they are in a virtual class.

“[Through this new policy,] we can get the education that we need and [the school] wouldn’t have to extend the school year to reach the number of hours they need,” Ramanathan said.