Jefferson County Public Schools never ceases to anger the A-West community when they get the chance. While it is never the district’s intention, the community struggles to respond positively to their decisions on school closures. On March 15, many school districts gave their students a snow day following the fourth largest snowstorm in Colorado history, but Jeffco made the decision to make it a remote learning day. A decision they made without analyzing the possible negative implications and disregarding the possibilities for positive ones. High school students have missed out on a typical high school experience this year, so the least the district can do is give them a snow day.
Jeffco has a procedure for determining snow days, “Unless the storm is extreme, the school will not be canceled or delayed.”
It is understandable that Jeffco doesn’t want to disrupt the function of thousands of families in the county, but the storm they are describing that would normally lead to a snow day matches the conditions of the one experienced that weekend.
Jeffco claims that “We will always do whatever we can to have schools open every day.”
Clearly, Jeffco had good intentions in an effort to keep students learning, especially now that students have technology available to them. However, after over a year of pandemic life and under the storm conditions that weekend, Jeffco should have completely canceled school for that day.
In a survey of 106 Arvada students, all but two students believed the school should have been canceled on March 15. Setting aside the fact that most students want a day off, many students missed classes altogether because of power outages and internet problems resulting from the snowstorm. This puts these students behind and forces them to have to make up work that wasn’t their fault for missing.
Junior Jordan Rife struggled with the same issue and had to miss all of her classes, including two AP classes. “On days like today, when I have no WiFi, a snow day would’ve been great.”
In addition to this, not much learning occurs on full remote days. Students and teachers are all at home, providing both of them with distractions. There is something about learning inside the classroom that inspires a mood of focus and work ethic that being home, especially on a day where no one wants to be doing schoolwork, cannot provide.
Many teachers actually let students out of Zoom meetings early to enjoy the snow or to at least take a break. Why waste time on a remote day when teachers and students won’t be able to take full advantage of the learning opportunity? Forcing hybrid learners to learn from home only weakens their education for that week, and actually can put them more behind than before.
Honestly, Jeffco really missed a great opportunity. Students have had a hard enough year learning during a pandemic. A snow day would have given students a much-needed break- a break from computer screens and struggling to learn online. It would have helped students feel a sense of normalcy again.
Jeffco took advantage of the evolved online learning platforms (developed over the course of the pandemic) all to take away what is special about every Coloradan child’s childhood. Students could not have homecoming, assemblies, and regular sports and activities this year, so why did Jeffco not let students have this snow day?
John Lee, a Junior at A-West, says “[Snow days] are a great gift and an unexpected break for both teachers and students.”
That truly sums it up: snow days are a gift. They are a time to sleep in, drink hot chocolate and play in the snow. Unfortunately, if students, young and old, will never get to experience them again because of a pandemic, then someone is doing something wrong. Let’s not use a negative experience, such as the pandemic, to completely eradicate snow days just because technology allows Jeffco to do so. Snow days must continue in the future.