On Snow Days

We’re not even into February yet and already, my district has taken six snow/cold days. Friends of mine in other parts of the state are approaching double-digit snow days, and I’m sure winter is not done hitting us.

Most teachers will tell you that snow days are a double-edged sword. Yes, they allow to stay home in a warm bed for a couple extra hours when that would not have been otherwise possible. And yes, they allow us to watch six full hours of SportsCenter in the morning when we might usually only catch 15 minutes while eating breakfast. But snow days also mean less time with our students. In the case of music teachers, it means less time to reinforce important basic concepts, or less time to prepare for concerts (or, cancelled concerts, which is always unfortunate).

I overheard an interesting statement on snow days yesterday. A parent (not one associated with my school or district) said something to the effect of, “Schools should be open. Your job is to educate our kids, my job is to keep them safe and warm.” That statement seemed a ridiculous oversimplification of our actual roles as teachers.

  • Yes, it is my job to educate your kids. You entrust them to me for 8+ hours per day. During that time, it’s also my job to make sure your kid is safe, warm and cared for. We teachers take that responsibility very seriously.
  • If we totally ignored the physical needs of our students (safety, warmth, food, etc.) during the day and only focused on education, I’m pretty sure the vast majority of parents would be livid.
  • In the case of a cold day, like we have today, school is called off because it’s unsafe to ask kids to walk to school, or wait at the bus stop for even a few minutes given the sub-zero temperatures and windchill. Parents who think school should be open will say “But we can just have our kids wait in our cars!” The unfortunate reality is that’s not an option for all families. Some families don’t have access to a warm car, some students might have no choice but to walk to school.
  • When you’re upset about the minor inconvenience of having to come up with child care on short notice for a snow day, consider how small a worry that is compared to your child’s safety. Snow days aren’t called so teachers can have a day off, they’re called so we can be 100% sure that your kids will be safe during the day.

Creative Commons License
The Trombonist’s Mouthpiece by Joe Guarr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License


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