Steven S. Drachman: Goodbye to snow days?

Happy Snow Day.

With the onset of virtual learning, those in the know have predicted that, from now on, all snow days will be canceled, as kids retreat, from time to time, to Zoom learning.

Sure sounds efficient! Still, I felt pretty bad for my daughter, still a high school kid, who sat in front of her Mac screen all day long, attending virtual classes, while outside snow blanketed nearby Prospect Park.

Before the pandemic, school would have been cancelled. When my kids were young, I might have had to stay home to look after them. The Park would have been blanketed with white, and crowded with kids on sleds, and I would have been there with them. But not this year.

The stated rule is that you get a snow day if it is dangerous or difficult to commute to school. That always seemed secondary to me. It is a sort of unstated rule that one reason for snow days is to let kids play in the snow. But what happens when the pretense for public safety is yanked away?

Well, here is one solution: get rid of the pretense altogether.

This, from Bondy Shay Gibson, the Superintendent of Schools in Jefferson County, in West Virginia:

For generations, families have greeted the first snow day of the year with joy. It is a time of renewed wonder at all the beautiful things that each season holds. A reminder of how fleeting a childhood can be. An opportunity to make some memories with your family that you hold on to for life.

For all of these reasons and many more, Jefferson County Schools will be completed closed tomorrow, December 1, in honor of the 1st snow day of the year. Closed for students, closed for virtual … closed for staff.

It has been a year of seemingly endless loss and the stress of trying to make up for that loss. For just a moment, we can all let go of the worry of making up for the many things we missed by making sure this is one thing our kids won’t lose this year.

So please, enjoy a day of sledding and hot chocolate and cozy fires. Take pictures of your kids in snow hats they will outgrow by next year…. We will return to the serious and urgent. business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow … go build a snowman.

Gibson doesn’t pretend that there is any public safety argument for snow days anymore. I like that. When it snows, kids ought to be outside playing.


Steven S. Drachman is the author of the Watt O’Hugh historical fantasy trilogy. The final book, Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead, is available in trade paperback from your favorite local independent bookstore, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and on Kindle. Photo, of Brooklyn in the snow, is by the author.