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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: No Days For Snow Days

Tommy Tomlinson

A teacher wrote in the other day with something I’d never thought of about the pandemic and schools.

She teaches in Union County, where students have been able to go to in-person classes one day a week if they choose. On Thursday, the county closed its schools because of possible flooding from the storms coming through the area. But classes went on as usual – just virtually.

And the teacher had this insight: Does this mean the end of snow days?

Man, that is a depressing thought.

There are few things in this world more delicious than a snow day. You go to bed thinking you’re going to have to go to school in the morning. But you wake up and the ground is white and all of a sudden you’ve been handed one of life’s great gifts: an unexpected day off.

My wife grew up in Wisconsin and scoffs at the idea of snow days. They were buried in snow up there from November to March. It takes an industrial-strength blizzard to close the schools up there.

Here in the South, it’s different. A few flakes fall, and we start hoarding milk and skidding sideways on the streets. Most of us can’t be trusted to do anything more than make popcorn. So most years the schools have a snow day or two.

But now, teachers and students could fire up their Zoom accounts just like they’ve been doing during the pandemic. We haven’t perfected virtual learning, but most everybody has the basics down. So there’s really no reason to shut down school anymore.

It’s another reminder of how much this year has knocked us out of phase. A friend was saying the other day that he was watching the NBA playoffs and it felt like June, because that’s usually when the NBA playoffs happen. But it’s September. It doesn’t make sense to our internal calendar.

It doesn’t make sense to not ride the bus or eat lunch with classmates or play on the playground and still have that count as a school day. And it sure won’t make sense if it snows and you have to go to class anyway.

At some point – and I’m saying this out of faith more than anything else – most of us will get back on our normal schedules again. But the pandemic has changed us, and some of those changes will linger.

I hope schools keep snow days. The surprise of a day off is still the best part. But once you’ve spent months at home, an extra day probably won’t taste quite as sweet.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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