This school year has been anything but normal. When it comes to snow days, it is no different. Instead of having typical snow days, West Milford now has virtual snow days, days on which students log into their classes, from home virtually, on an early dismissal schedule. These days then count as school days and do not use one of the district’s allotted calendar snow days. There are many positive aspects to this situation, but there are also a few downsides.
When trying to remain positive, there are a couple of things to remember about these virtual snow days. School will let out earlier in June because snow days are not being used like they used to be. The days are also shorter because they are early dismissals, so students and teachers do not have to spend the entire day glued to their computer screens instead of watching the snowfall. They also give students who would normally have to go in for their A or B day a chance to sleep in an extra hour and be refreshed for their classes.
There are also some negative sides to these virtual snow days. Many students and teachers struggle with wifi and internet issues where they can not get online, assignments won’t load, etc. Many students have trouble focusing at home, so every extra virtual snow day they have is one day more they are at home, not concentrating. Dr. Anemone has said in his letters home that virtual snow days are “no homework days”, but there are a few teachers still giving homework and some teachers assign extensive work during the class period.
After talking to a variety of parents, students, and teachers, it is clear there are differing opinions when it comes to virtual snow days. One student said, “Virtual snow days are a waste of time. If you want to have a virtual snow day, have a full school day [otherwise, have] no school at all. Children NEED to have fun. And for high schoolers, it’s okay to have a break once in a while from the workload and stress. Snow days are a chance to live a little instead of working or going to school.” Two students who interviewed together stated, “It is hard because the internet does not work often, and teachers mark us absent for that. If there is a lot of snow we should get off, but if it is minimal, then keep it virtual so we get out for the summer earlier.” A teacher has said, “I am all for this setup. It gives the kids that ‘day off’ that parents seem to want so much, but allows us to not lose days of spring break or [possibly] get out earlier at the end of the year. I’d rather have the days off when the weather is nice.”
A parent said, “Either send them to school or call an actual snow day because it is difficult for working parents to have to juggle kids and adjust their schedules with having them home doing school. Our schedules are already set, so it complicates it.” Another parent had the same thought, but for a different reason, “Snow days are something children look forward to. They are taking many things away; a lot of children still enjoy going out in the snow, and it gives them a chance to be free of a device for a day.”
I personally believe that virtual snow days are useful, with the exception being, if there is a major storm, like the one we recently had, we will get the day off. If it is a little flurry, but the road conditions may not be great, then we can go all virtual to save snow days. But if there are mounds of snow everywhere, many older students have to help their families shovel early in the morning before their parents work, or they have to watch younger siblings. Virtual snow days should be used in moderation, but so far they are running smoothly.
Overall, the district is making the best of the situation, by trying to be fair and reasonable. In the years to come, everyone is wondering if this trend will continue, however for now, we as a town will work together and make these virtual snow days better.