With the cold midwestern winter at its high point and snow coming down what seems like every other day, school districts throughout the country are all asking themselves a simple question: is there any reason to keep snow days during remote learning?
Simply put the answer is yes. Snow days provide an opportunity for students to have a relaxing day off where they can catch up on homework, spend time with family and friends, and finally take time to breathe without having to worry about an upcoming essay or project. This time off has become increasingly important as a result of Covid-19’s effect on student mental health. A recent Gallup poll found that “Nearly three in 10 [parents] say their child is already experiencing harm’ to their emotional or mental health because of social distancing” and found that almost 15 percent of parents thought their children were approaching their limits. It’s clear that students all across the country are at their breaking point and are not only physically but emotionally and mentally exhausted as well. Although this is nothing new, (a 2018 survey found that almost two-thirds of students had “felt overwhelming anxiety” at least once in the past year, while another study found 70% of teens view depression and anxiety as a major problem) it’s clear that covid-19 has worsened and exacerbated the student mental health crisis.
There is no question why students are feeling more and more stressed out. Students have to deal with homework assignments, college applications, sports, and other extracurricular activities all on top of family life and sometimes even a full-time job. Balancing all of this is hard enough, but doing so during a pandemic that has taken the lives of millions, and in a time where our friends seem distant and our government indifferent, it’s not only impossible but absurd for our school administrators to expect students to function normally. Covid-19 has cut us off from our friends and family, from our teachers and mentors, and sometimes even reality itself. By keeping snow days school districts can help provide a dose of normalcy in our stressful and anxiety-filled lives.
Our school prides itself on taking care of our students. We invite speakers to talk about mental health, give students coloring paper to relax with during ATR, and constantly remind them to check up on one another. To strip students of the few days that provide us with relief from mental exhaustion would undo all of that good work. It’s not only hypocritical but also unethical and immoral for our administration to start every email with “during these unprecedented times” and then deprive students of the snow days that help us cope with the unprecedented times. The time for action is now. Addison Trail should never back down when push comes to shove, but rather push forward and provide a shining example for other schools to follow. Snow days should remain a constant fixture at Addison Trail whether there’s remote learning or not.