Snow days slip sliding away

A moment of silence, please, as we mark the passing of one of the great joys of childhood — snow days.

Snow days are a pony ride, birthday party and Christmas all rolled into one.

No two words are sweeter to a child’s ears than “snow day.”

A snow day is a holiday you didn’t see coming, an unexpected reprieve from yet one more day of the same ol’, same ol’.

Before the days of Twitter and email notifications, our kids would sit glued to the TV screen as school closings scrolled by in alphabetical order, waiting to see their school listed. If it wasn’t, they’d sit through the whole loop again hoping it would appear on the list the next time around,

Snow days meant the monolithic school was temporarily powerless over you—you had been rendered untouchable by a thick blanket of snow. Teachers might be at home tallying grades and creating more labyrinths of homework assignments on a snow day, but you?

You would be outside sledding, building forts, snowmen and snow women, making snow angels, having snowball fights, maybe even shoveling snow for the neighbors. When your cheeks turned scarlet, your lips cracked and bled and your lower limbs suffered early stages of frostbite, you trekked back inside, dumped your wet clothes on a heating vent where they would soon smell like wet dog, and went to find some hot chocolate.

Here in the Midwest, we recently spent days tracking pink and blue swaths on weather maps, anticipating a winter storm. Grocery shelves were stripped bare of bread, milk and eggs, shoppers evidently preparing for a French toast bonanza. The snow fell as predicted. Schools closed. Big yellow buses sat idle. Motorists stayed off the roads until the plows had a chance to do their thing.

For kids, the wonderful, marvelous snow day had finally arrived. But it wasn’t a wonderful, marvelous snow day for everyone. For many it was an e-learning day.

Just like that, someone waves a magic wand, and a much-anticipated snow day becomes a virtual learning day. (Insert collective groan here.) Of course, such decisions are couched in loftier terms such as “hybrid learning” or “repurposing.”

Should snow days all be repurposed into virtual learning days and fade into the passing of time, it will be most regrettable—a simple childhood joy sacrificed on the altar of technology.

Only time will tell if snow days remain snow days, or become a day when children once again sit transfixed before computer screens for hours on end.

Snow days won’t disappear like Frosty, dancing their way out of town singing about returning one day. They’ll forever melt into history on the broadband.

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