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Mon Schools: No such thing as snow days for the rest of the winter

Don’t shovel any questions over to Eddie Campbell Jr. concerning “snow days,” and the like – at least for now.

Or, the rest of the winter, really.

“At this point, we just need to focus on where we are right now,” the Monongalia County Schools superintendent said Monday.

Mon’s students – the blended-learning ones – were supposed to be in their classrooms that morning, to launch the first full week of in-person learning under the state’s back-to-school mandate.

All that black ice on the boulevard, however, forced the district to shift back to an all-remote delivery of lesson plans and homework.

Back in the pre-pandemic time of January 2020, Monday may have even been a snow day.

Now, in school districts across the northeast and other snowbelt climes, such occurrences may end up becoming as arcane as inkwells and overhead projectors, in the toolkit of how education is delivered.

During a recent survey conducted by school principals across the U.S. by Education Week, a national publication that covers K-12 education, a total of 39% of all respondents said their districts have already converted snow days to distance-learning days, in response to the pandemic.

Another 32% said their districts were getting that done, also.

Not that the delivery system has been easy.

It’s still a matter of trying to connect with the connected, as it were, while teachers and students still grapple with remote-learning gaps, burnouts and other unforeseen maladies related to the modem and the medical event.  

And, for a society that simply wants things to again be “normal,” there’s something else.


Oodles of it, burnished with a pandemic-patina of “Remember how it used to be?” memories – manufactured, or not.

That’s what Campbell’s Soup, a brand just as much about nostalgia as it is that steaming bowl of chicken noodle, did last month when it launched its “Save the Snow Day,” campaign.

The symbolic marketing effort asked customers to send in photographs of them sledding and enjoying other such pursuits on such days.

It was around that same time Bondy Shay Gibson, the superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, went viral, with a Currier & Ives take on the coronavirus.

With the outer bands of a Nor’easter vectoring in, Gibson called for a good, old-fashioned snow day – in advance.

“So please, enjoy a day of sledding and hot chocolate and cozy fires,” she wrote in a letter to parents.

“We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday,” the superintendent continued.

“But for tomorrow … go build a snowman.”

On Monday, though, her district and Campbell’s district and 53 others across the Mountain State were working to build stability for the school day, in the face of an executive order to answer roll many say was heavy-handed and excessively punitive.

Districts moving to defy the call for in-person learning were told by the state Department of Education they could be subject to sanctions from reallocating state aid monies and more, should they do so.

“We were strong-armed,” said the Rev. James Saunders, a 30-year member Board of Education in neighboring Marion County whose district was on the receiving end of the above.

Which, brings it back to snow days in Mon, Campbell said.

No strong-arming there, he said. The district simply doesn’t have room for such luxuries – even with the hot chocolate, the fireplace and the big hill out back beckoning the sled.

“We’re established with our remote learning for the rest of winter,” Mon’s superintendent said.

But what snow days as a rule?

Campbell, who once went to work on 20-below days while serving as principal of a high school close to the Arctic Circle in Alaska, said he would rather not “project out,” concerning whether such calendar perks will be remain.

“It is food for thought,” he said, “as people start considering how things will be after the pandemic.”