The official start of winter might not be here quite yet, but Mother Nature runs off of her own calendar. She doesn’t wait for a pesky date — Dec. 21 this year — to get the snow falling and the cold winds blowing.
The silver linings of a big snowfall is the promise of all the beauty and fun that comes with it — including sledding, building snowmen and making snow angels. And after you’re done, you get to come inside and enjoy a piping mug of hot chocolate.
Winter can also mean the promise of something much sweeter than cocoa. And that is the snow day.
Here in the Midwest, we are pretty accustomed to the long-standing school policy that ensures a day off for students if enough of the white flakes fall. School districts plan for it by setting aside a certain number of makeup days for what they see as an inevitable occurrence. Kids love it, but speaking as a working parent, it’s a scheduling snafu that looms over us from November until we are safely into April.
Parents aren’t the only grown-ups who dread the snow day. School district administrators and educators aren’t too hot about the missed time, either.
As a matter of fact, one school district in South Carolina has gone so far as to abolish the practice. No, this doesn’t mean school buses are braving snowy streets or that kids are trekking through mounds of snow to get to their desks. Instead, they are testing a pilot program that would let kids “work from home.”
So for South Carolina students, it’s goodbye “snow day” and hello to the newly dubbed “eLearning day.”
That’s right, kids. Thanks to those handy tablets and computers you love to game, watch videos and surf the web with, you can now go to school even if a snowpocalypse has descended upon you.
If the Wi-Fi goes out or a student doesn’t have Internet access at home, the district has the kids download the assignments on school-provided Chromebooks to take home and work on in case of a weather-related homebound day.
My initial thought was, “Oh, man. Is technology now ruining the snow day?”
But then I thought of what it is they’re looking to do after all the snowballs have been thrown and the snow-people have been erected. Before they’ve even drained that last marshmallow sip from their cocoa mugs, I hear, “Can we watch something?” or “Can we play on our devices?”
In a perfect parenting world, kids would simply occupy their free time with all of their non-tech toys. I didn’t build that Lego table for nothing! Then again, if the world were really perfect, there’d be no inclement weather and they’d be sitting at the desks at school like they’re supposed to.
So maybe the Palmetto State is on to something. It doesn’t have to spell the end to snow-day fun — but maybe make it more of a working holiday.
And here some of you kids thought those little electronic devices were just for playing “Fortnite” and watching your favorite YouTube channels.
Molly Cavanaugh of Channel 94.1 FM’s “Big Party Show” in Omaha is a mom to two children living in Chicago. She writes weekly for Momaha.com.