Our view: In defense of snow days

Dec 03, 2020

In some ways, it seems like we have all been on a snow day that has lasted most of the year.

However, we remain optimistic that someday we will all return to a more-or-less normal routine, including students attending school. So, we must ponder the trend of schools forcing teachers and students to continue their work, even when it is snowing.

Camden area schools were the pioneers in the concept of remote learning. In this era of technology, students can continue to complete assignments and learn online, so the snow days can be eliminated and, as a result, students and teachers do not run the risk of having to go extra days in the summer.

Now RSU 40 is going the same route.

There are good arguments for this policy. Certainly many of us in the “real world” of adult work are not given the day off due to snowy weather. The pandemic has illustrated it is possible to work from home.

However, we have to remember we are talking about children. There are only a few magical years of childhood and you have the rest of your life to devote to hard work. Is there something to be said for a day of making snow angels, building snowmen and drinking cocoa while the feeling slowly returns to your limbs? Or is this a romanticized vision? Would the students more likely be sitting around watching television and playing videogames on their snow days?

Upon hearing these new plans for snow day drudgery, the common response is, “I’m glad I was a kid in the old days.”

Aside from that, we have learned this year that those who have children learning remotely, there is no substitute for the classroom and a teacher you can interact with in the same room. Online learning is tedious, fraught with technical difficulties and generally not as good.

It does not offer an even playing field. Those few students who do not have access to internet at home are left behind.

The educators proposing this have their hearts in the right place, as always, but we tentatively disagree with this approach. Kids should have a few days in this life to just be kids. Heavy snowfall, something that may itself soon be a thing of the past, is the universe’s way of telling you to take a break.

At the very least more discussion and debate is needed.

The Duty of Citizens

On the topic of more discussion and debate, we can perhaps sympathize with those public officials who are sick of hearing that argument made in public processes.

When projects are proposed such as hotels, sidewalks, interlocal airport agreements and renaming Camden school buildings, we often hear someone argue there has not been enough opportunity for public input.

Sometimes this is true. We consider it part of our mission as newspapers to watchdog public processes to make sure they are fair and open to all.

However, we would also remind readers there is a responsibility on the part of citizens as well. It is your job to remain informed. You can read newspapers (which is certainly good for us), and you can keep track of things on government websites. Most of our local towns post agenda items and meetings on their online calendars.

In some cases, someone will argue they had no opportunity to comment on a proposal when, in fact, the board in question has been discussing it in public meetings for months.

Keep your ear to the rail. Read the papers and watch online where you can. Be an active and informed citizen rather than a passive resident.

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