I grew up in South Carolina where snow days seemed nearly impossible. With flurries in the forecast, schools shut down and kids stayed home.
South Carolina, you could argue, is not as well-prepared for “snow days” as states to the north. The northwest corner of the state maintains decent snow equipment. Crews in that part of the state know what to do when it snows.
But in central South Carolina and certainly along the coast, where snow rarely falls, it’s a different story.
People tell an old joke in the state that it only takes a mention of snow to close schools. I can tell you it isn’t quite that bad, but it might feel like it.
When I was a kid, a snow day meant no school. Sometimes, if we only missed a day or two, we might not even have to make up the missed days.
Kids of all ages, I suspect, enjoy an occasional extra day off, right?
But then 2020 happened.
In March, we became familiar with this thing called COVID-19. Suddenly, people began working from home. Students began learning from home.
Growing up in the 1970s, we didn’t have that option. The technology most prevalent would have allowed us to watch cartoons, game shows and soap operas during the school day. But actual lessons delivered over the internet couldn’t have been conceived back then.
But this year, the majority of students faced exactly that alternative.
Yes, there have been plenty of situations where virtual learning turned into a major challenge. That is especially true in rural areas where some families may not have access to internet service at all.
It’s 2020. There should be no areas where there is no internet service.
But the relative speed with which schools adapted to teaching online versus in person leaves me wondering about “snow days” of the future.
Will there come a time when a snowstorm will no longer be a valid reason for children to miss school? After this year, I think we may be headed in that direction.
At least, there’s the potential that we could be.
We face the obvious challenge of dealing with power outages that could prevent modems and devices from powering up. But other than that, I think we’re approaching a time when bad weather may no longer mean missed classes.
Is that a good thing? I’m not sure. I still say an occasional extra day off can be a very good thing.
But when it comes to school, with so much that kids need to accomplish in the classroom, the threat of missing instructional time seems to make their uphill battle an even steeper climb.
As a kid, I probably would have hated virtual learning. That’s not because I was a social butterfly; I was (and remain) a major introvert. I do think, however, I would have found myself too easily distracted.
Today’s kids don’t know a time without that kind of technology. I have faith they would handle the absence of future snow days much better than I ever would have.