Hemlock, MI - It seems like our state and parts of the nation have a love-hate relationship with “Snow Days.” What once was a rare occasion, with one or two days off a year, when going to school would be life-threatening, has turned into school years that involve a dozen or more snow days. It has been highlighted by school principals, office administrators, and teachers that dance, and sing, and exclaiming the joys involving another snow day.
In reality, before 2020, a day away from school was a day of lost education. Considering the costs involved, this is not a wise use of resources dedicated to educating children. Before you choke on your ginger snaps and spit out your hot cocoa, make sure to read through this article.
High School Principal Keith Green said, “I love snow days, but we are a teaching and learning institution. We have a mission of preparing students for life after K-12 and that life rarely involves not going to work because of snow.”
Like anything else, in moderation, snow days are just fine, but after losing more than two weeks of instruction a couple of years ago, Hemlock Public School District planned on doing something very different with snow days, and 2020 has sped that timetable up. The district settled an agreement with the Hemlock Federation of Teachers last fall that allows for remote-learning on snow days. The updated language is simple and yet profound, it says, that on an “Act of God Day,” aka snow day, that teachers will be responsible to work under the direction of their building principal.
Principal Lori Gensch said, “It’s not our intention to completely remove the joys of a snow day for students and parents, but we are here to educate our students every day of the school year, and that includes those that involve bad weather.”
Obviously, this past year has taught us that we can do several things remotely. It would be educational malpractice to not move the needle and plan that our snow days will look different moving forward.
“We, at Hemlock Public School District, believe that there is a balance that can be found in the future when we are not able to have face-to-face instruction due to inclement weather. That balance may involve sleeping in a bit, a big pancake breakfast, sledding in the afternoon, or a family movie, which seem to be the earmarks of a good snow day experience, but it will also involve some level of learning and schoolwork,” said, Superintendent Don Killingbeck.
This has been something we have been working on for some time, with our 1-to-1 technology, our use of Google Classroom, Skyward integration, and so much more. It just happens to be that 2020 has catapulted us forward about 2-3 years ahead of what we thought would be realistic.