The first major snowfall of the winter season made many Long Island schools shut down and give the kids a snow day, excepting Baldwin, Freeport and Malverne, making many wonder why switch to remote instead. The snow fall, which touched down Thursday night into the twilight hours of Friday morning, approximated six inches.
With Baldwin High School and Middle School students going remote the first week back from winter break, the district decided all schools would transition to remote learning for all students, K-12, because of the snow.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Shari Camhi told the Herald the decision-making process behind this judgment, “We are only in the first week of January, and if we experience a harsh winter this year, we will end up going through our designated snow days before the Spring, leaving us with no choice but to transition.”
Hammering in the importance of uninterrupted learning, Dr. Camhi says, “As a school district, our main focus is to maximize every instructional opportunity for our students.”
Due to the pandemic and the forced public remote instruction in 2020, about 40% of districts nationwide have decided to swap those inclement weather days off with remote learning. However, evidence-based research suggests, in pre-pandemic times, that snow days do not have a significant impact in student achievement as individual absences do.
"Just having to push a lesson back one day is not very hard to do," said Joshua S. Goodman, an assistant professor in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy. "What's harder to deal with is when five out of 25 students are missing because of weather," he said.
The district, however, also acknowledges the psychological importance of snow days and play, noting, “We are absolutely in support of encouraging our children to play in the snow and for down time... the day was made flexible to allow for 'play in the snow time' and shortened to combat screen fatigue.”
“On one hand, burnout and stress are at an all-time high as a result of the pandemic,” stated University of Minnesota associate professor of school psychology Faith Miller. “Snow days provide that opportunity, that possibility for obligations to be temporarily abandoned. This type of discretionary time is linked to happiness and life satisfaction.”
A Mental Health America report found that the rate of anxiety and depression was up 9% compared to 2019 in 11 to 17-year-old children. A national Gallup poll in June 2020 revealed that about 3 in 10 parents indicated social distancing and school closures were making their children experience emotional or mental harm.
Parents who worry about their children having a “normal” childhood during Covid can take solace in snow days, which are looked upon as a rite of passage to many. Walking away from the computers and outside into the snowy scenery can help kids absorb needed Vitamin D and enjoy a safe outdoor activity.
For updates on upcoming winter school cancelations please refer to https://www.baldwinschools.org/.