A Snow Day, if You Can Defend It


Ian Chung, Current Events Columnist

For many students and teachers, snow days are nearly a necessity in order to stay afloat, as they are inundated with schoolwork and papers. Unfortunately, Vestal has not had a single snow day so far this year, mostly due to the lack of inclement weather. This will hopefully soon change, but no matter what happens to us here in the short term, the long-term trend looks increasingly solidified, as the years pass by. However, snow days all across the nation are in serious danger of extinction.

The EPA reports that relatively minor rises in the average global temperature can have wide-reaching effects on colder climates, including drastically lower snowfall and ice cover. Total snowfall has been consistently falling in the United States since the 1930s as climate change accelerates, and snow cover (the amount of land covered by snow) has fallen at a rate of nearly 2,000 square miles per year on average since 1972. (https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/snow-ice) Needless to say, less accumulation of wintry precipitation means a lower chance of classes being canceled. Although it must be acknowledged that severe snowstorms can act as significant disruptions to economic activity and pose safety hazards to the general public, a decline in the probability of snow days is nevertheless a devastating loss for students. Research shows that snow days improve the mental health of those affected, and play an important role in combating seasonal depression. (https://www.columbiatribune.com/story/news/local/2021/01/20/snow-improves-our-mental-health/6621180002/)

In addition, the snow days that still exist are under threat. In 2020, following the national experiment with virtual learning, almost 40% of school districts announced that they would do away with snow days entirely and replace them with virtual learning. (https://www.npr.org/2021/12/22/1066642300/virtual-classes-allow-school-districts-to-do-away-with-traditional-snow-days) This is no doubt an absurd move to make. Not only are these actions damaging to the well-being of students, but they are also disruptive to a long tradition that is inseparable from a proper growing experience. The feeling of being absolutely swamped with work and completely unmotivated to head to school before checking the district’s homepage and realizing that classes are canceled for the day is one of absolute euphoria. No generation should be denied the privilege of this experience. Vestal students are fortunate to still enjoy the possibility of snow days, but policies can change. It is the duty of everyone at VHS to defend this necessary tradition, so it can be preserved for posterity and remain an integral part of our school’s welfare.