By JEET JAGTAP ‘24
The COVID-19 pandemic caused drastic changes to daily lives— students no longer go to in-person school, hang out with friends, or travel for vacation. Now, they participate in remote learning. In December, Edison experienced its first heavy snowfall. With the help of remote learning, schools remained in session. The advent of remote learning, among other things, begs the question: “Are snow days necessary?” What will happen to the snow day, when students come back to school? Is it more practical to replace it with remote learning? Parents, students, and Superintendent Dr. Bernard Bragen gave their opinion on this matter.
The responses from students and parents varied on this subject, but followed a common thread. “Having no snow days makes sense really. Even though it deprives us of some kiddish joy, as long as those spare days add time to summer vacation, I’m happy,” said Holly Rizzo ‘24.
Other students think differently. “I loathe remote learning. I may be weirdly serious about social-distancing, but remote learning is a migraine reincarnate. I am so stressed, that I forgot how to properly maintain a friendship. I’m so busy, that I forget to be sad about my lack of social life,” said Atharva Inamdar ‘24. “I looked forward to snow days as a nice surprise break… [remote learning] is fine…but classes are much less engaging. It’s much harder for the teacher to connect to the students.”
Parents offered a different perspective. “Although it’s upsetting, due to the new way of learning, the only thing that can really give kids a day off now is if the town were to have a power outage,” said Kizzy Nunes, a mother of two. “The schools seem to be handling the COVID situation well, but I do have concern for kids who struggle focusing.”
“I would like to have snow days for kids to enjoy the beauty of nature,” said Sheenam Nandwani, also a mother of two. “Remote learning should be the last resort. Only where it is absolutely needed and there is no other better option available.” Most parents agree that the school should keep snow days.
One of the anticipated key benefits of removing the snow day would be the protection it provides to the disruption of academics. Academic activities and learning could go on as usual. However, when asked their opinion on the benefits of an extra day, most respondents believed the extra day of learning would not be beneficial, and none were excited about having school instead of a snow day.
Dr. Bernard F. Bragen, Superintendent of the Edison Township School District, is following New Jersey Dept. of Education guidelines, allowing distance learning to replace a snow day and count as a full day of school. However, there is still debate on this plan after the pandemic. Various superintendents in New Jersey are trying to get remote learning approved post-pandemic.
“If we get approval, I would anticipate that would happen somewhere in the spring, because most districts plan their calendar for next year in the spring,” said Bragen.
The COVID-19 situation, with the emergence of multiple vaccines on the horizon, is poised to improve during the 2021-22 school year. By then, Edison residents hope that schools will be open and COVID cases will decrease. Although a decision on the matter is expected to come out by spring of this year, snow days will likely make their exit from New Jersey school districts equipped to manage remote instruction on short and snowy notice.