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New York schools cancel snow days due to remote learning


New York City public school students will be robbed of their coveted snow days — possibly forever, an education official said Tuesday.

“Technically, there are no more snow days,” David C. Banks, chancellor of the city’s Department of Education, said in an interview with WNYW’s “Good Day New York.”

He explained that remote learning technology implemented during the coronavirus pandemic will allow students to continue their studies on days when the snow is too heavy for them to get to school – when children would normally go sledding with their friends.

“So, sorry kids – no more snow days, but it’ll be good for you!” he said.

New York City Public Schools first scrapped snow days in 2020 amid the first year of the pandemic and continued the policy through the following school year, citing the need to respond the state requirement of 180 apprenticeship days per year.

The city’s Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.

School districts in other states also eliminated snow days, although some places, including Washington, D.C., retained them. Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, for example, forecast up to five days of snowfall last year.

Ben Blair, the manager of Rogers Park Montessori in Chicago, told WFLD earlier this year that days off could be good for students.

“I think there’s value in those moments of reckless, joyful abandonment,” he told the station. “Whether it’s falling in the snow or meeting neighbors on the street shoveling, this human connection that happens by chance during a snowy day is fantastic.”

In places where snow days are disappearing, the change has come to the disappointment of students and the opposition of some parents for whom the events are reminiscent of their own childhood. The stress of ensuring their children participate in remote learning while juggling their own work responsibilities is also a priority.

New York just canceled snow days and parents aren’t happy

At the same time, snow days have been a headache for officials in New York and other parts of the country who are forced to make tough calls that are often later criticized. Years before schools were closed by the coronavirus pandemic, national authorities were looking for alternatives to give students a day off in case of bad weather, with some experimenting with distance learning, Edutopia, a publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, reported in 2018.

Although Banks said remote learning technology has helped get away from snowy days in New York, some low-income families said it wasn’t working for them. In December, five parents sued city officials, saying the department provided them with faulty equipment and offered no technical assistance. The case is ongoing.

Teachers, meanwhile, have been told to set up a “digital classroom” where a lesson plan is prepared and ready in the event of an emergency shutdown, a spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers at the New York Post.

On Tuesday, the hosts of “Good Day New York” jokingly booed Banks’ snow day announcement.

“I know,” he replied. “That’s how I felt before.”


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