New protocol for snow days leaves me to watch my childhood flurry away

5 year old Emily McNally plays in the snow on her day off.

by Emily McNally, Managing Editor

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I remember the excitement of waking up to see schools are closed because of the snow. And I remember trying to add luck to canceling school the night before. 

December Forecast: Chance of snow, ice accumulation possible.

Who doesn’t get excited about a snow day? 

I remember friends encouraging everyone to sleep with a spoon under their pillow, or flush ice cubes down the toilet, and wear their pjs inside out.

Of course we all thought these silly tricks would work. 

Little Emily McNally hikes back up her hill with her her dad, James McNally.

Now FCPS has tricked us. Per the new FCPS Regulation, snow days are now virtual instruction days.

I wish I could have one more year to say my final goodbyes to my childhood. As a senior, I have only a couple of potential snow days left. I want to wake up to a blanket of untouched, white fluffy snow. I want to get the text that there is no school and stay in bed an extra hour.

The memories of jumping into knee deep icy powder always play in my head this time of year. Though, because of the recent warm winters, I can’t remember the last time I actually sled down a giant icy hill on my day off of school. 

The 30 second adrenaline rush as I steer my saucer down my steep hill will always be some of my best memories. 

Senior, Sammy Thomas feels the way I do.  

“I love snow days. Usually when it snows my dad heats up the fireplace and we watch movies all day together,” Thomas said. “I think the weather could really affect the internet and electricity and because of this I would definitely rather have no school at all that day so that I can just have a day to myself and chill.”

Emily McNally and her brother, Patrick play in the snow on their day off from school.

I miss all of it: The wet chunks of ice in my hair after a long day playing in the snow, the sickenly sweet hot cocoa to warm me up, sitting in front of the fireplace, bundled up with my friends and family as we watched The Grinch for the hundredth time that week. 

Who has a heart two sizes too small now? Frederick County Public Schools, that’s who.

Now on snow days I will be stuck inside on my computer doing online school. No time to enjoy the winter wonderland.

If only FCPS was as kind hearted as West Virginia’s Jefferson County Schools. Superintendent, Bondy Shay Gibson sent out a compassionate letter to all JCS families on Tuesday, canceling virtual class for winter storm Wednesday, December 16.

“Closed for students… closed for virtual… closed for staff,” Gibson said. “We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow…. go build a snowman.”

Student member of the FCPS Board of Education, Mia Martinez gives her input on the new protocol.

“Virtual snow days allow for us still to get instruction even if it is snowing out as long as offices are open,” said Martinez.

While many students may not be all for virtual snow days, Martinez made some great points regarding academic benefits to this new snow days approach. And not just for students, but for teachers too.

“It can be stressful cramming all the material into one semester, so being able to still connect with students and teachers keeps us all on track,” Martinez said. “Though, it is still important to recognize mental health and the use of breaks. Virtual learning can be stressful for everyone and bad weather does not help with that. We are used to getting days completely off with snow, so it may be difficult adapting to fewer breaks.”

This new protocol could really take a toll on some students. Reaghan Bowie, Class of 2024 feels she would not be able to get her work done. 

“I love going sledding with my friends and family so I think it might be hard for me to focus on my schoolwork with the snow falling outside,” said Bowie. 

Not only are students worried, but parents are too. 

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“I am a little worried because they would be distracted by the snow and wanting to go outside and the weather may mess up Wi-Fi for some students and teachers. It wouldn’t be fair for those students to be marked absent that day,” said Theresa Bowie. 

Snow days used to be about taking a break or catching up on schoolwork. But now we will add to the never ending stressful assignments, piling up like the snow drifts we can’t play in.

And how many of our parents depend on us to shovel snow or do other cold weather chores?  It’s not always snowmen and sledding.

Little Emily McNally smiles for the camera in her igloo fort.

Sometimes with virtual school, I feel like a princess locked in her tower, completely isolated from the outside world. The opportunity to go out and play is probably what kids need most now–not another day of virtual assignments.

I’m willing to sacrifice a day in June for a break now. I think most of my friends would agree.

What do teachers do on snow days? Most catch up with grading or make lesson plans–it’s a time for them to have a break. Now, the ones who go to the school building to get reliable WiFi will need to figure it out from home.

I think that the new snow day protocol is ok for general snow days. But I think in very severe weather it wont work as our WiFi might be down,” said Art Teacher, Georgia Geisser. “I love a good snow day. There are not many days off in January, February, and March so it always helps me recharge.”

Emily McNally and her brother, Patrick make snowballs.

When I was little, my brother, my neighbors, and I would jump for joy when we had a snow day. We would all get together and have snowball fights. I miss the feeling of a no-worry life. The only thing I was worrying about back then was how I had to hike back up my mountain sized front yard after sledding down it. 

Seeing old pictures and videos of my kids playing in the snow brings back so many heartfelt memories,” said Mary McNally. “I’m glad I have the videos so I can relive them. Sometimes on snow days I will watch them all with the whole family.”