The future of snow days

By now, you have probably heard…

This week, the New York State Education Department announced a “remote snow day pilot” for the 2020-21 school year.

It outlined an option, as quoted below, for schools to have remote learning on days when adverse winter weather causes the closure of a district.

“As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to provide districts with flexibility in meeting local needs during the pandemic, the Department is establishing a one-year pilot to enable school districts, at district option, and consistent with each district’s re-opening educational plan, to pivot to remote instruction to provide continuity of instruction on what would otherwise be a day of school closure due to a snow emergency. This pilot is in effect for the 2020-21 school year, after which the Department will review the outcome of the pilot in determining whether to continue this flexibility in subsequent school years.”

While we don’t yet know what districts will opt in to this pilot, I think it’s probable that at least a few Hudson Valley schools will.

As such, “snow days” will certainly take on a different meaning this year. What that meaning is, we'll find out soon enough. I don't think all the magic will be lost, but the novelty of having an unplanned day off may have, at least temporarily, lost a bit of its luster.

The past

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a winter morning and looking out the window to a snow-covered landscape from the comfort and warmth of your home, knowing you can relax and sip hot chocolate all day.

Over the years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed rallying the Hudson Valley behind the somewhat esoteric prediction of local snow days and was particularly thrilled when said prediction came to fruition, putting a smile on the face of many a student and teacher.

I’d like to think my snow day prediction has helped to unite the community in a fun and unique way, which was evidenced by a well attended meet-and-greet last December, this article in the Hudson Valley Magazine, and more.

You might have become familiar with the emoji-identifiers that I use to represent different school districts across the region.

The emoji-fied schools get included in a tweet on the night before a (hopeful) snow day or delay, next to the percent chance for an impact.

The future

From a day-to-day continuity and long-term sustainability perspective, the ability to go virtual on a snow day (or otherwise) makes some sense.

From a school experience perspective, still having snowy days but not having snow days would make things a little less fun and monotonous for students and teachers. It’s a bit like having a birthday with no cake — it’s just not the same.

There is precedence: in the summer of 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that turned snow days into flexible instruction days, whereby districts conduct online, virtual learning. This was implemented in about 90 schools across PA during the 2019-20 school year and met by mixed opinions. One high schooler remarked that it still felt like he had the day off, but just had to complete an extra assignment during the day.

It’s still very early, but here are the results of a poll of how Hudson Valley students are finding their new way of learning.

Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I say that with any new situation comes opportunity. So this new arrangement, should it forge ahead, will be an opportunity to come up with a new creative concept.

Whatever the case may be, trust that I'll still be here by your side this winter, keeping you informed of Mother Nature’s next move, and, if I’m so lucky, predicting snow days.

Remixed logo for the 2020-21 school year 😊

I’ve got some new merch coming soon and I’ll be sure to share it with you once it’s ready. Your support will keep the BenNollWeather train rolling through the winter.

Full steam ahead!

My sister and I enjoying a snow day in the early 2000s


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My forecasts have always been free. I do it out of my passion for the weather and find enjoyment in trying to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature. Thanks for coming along with me on the journey!

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