Last month, we asked readers to weigh in on a...

Last month, we asked readers to weigh in on a brewing debate over whether to continue the practice of snow days for schools or shift to remote learning for inclement weather. Below are some responses. Credit: Steve Pfost

A storm of a debate is brewing.

The New York City school system recently announced it would no longer have any snow days — times when school is called off because of big storms. Instead, NYC will shift to remote learning for inclement weather. On Long Island, the reaction was different with many school districts keeping the traditional snow days.

Some say snow days are a cherished tradition and a serendipitous excuse for bonus play and relaxation. Others argue that with schools struggling to get students up to speed, particularly post-pandemic, snow on the ground is no reason to slam the schoolbooks shut.

When the big flakes are coming down, or ice is making the roads treacherous, should there be an automatic switch to remote learning? Or does wintry weather justify a little whimsy?

Granted, I have been a retired elementary teacher for the past 20 years and did not have to teach remotely. However, seeing the snowfall and enjoying sledding, snow angels, and snowball fights is fun for the young and not so young. I grew up in New York City. We never had snow days, and I missed out on this celebration. It is great fun and wonderful memories, with wet mittens and hot chocolate. It is also one of the only things that will distract kids from computer games. I vote to keep snow days. — Barbara Hansen, Smithtown

Sometimes, we get a snow day if the North Wind and Mother Nature are aligned. The buses can’t roll, and mom and dad can’t get to work. That means parents and kids don’t have a care in the world but to enjoy each other:


Sledding with the dog

Building an igloo

Snowball fights

Playing ‘king of the mountain’

Warming up with hot cocoa and good memories

Snow days are good for the whole family. — Carol Ludwig, Wantagh

I say keep the snow days. Switching to remote learning on short notice will negatively impact teachers, parents, and students. As adults found during COVID-19 that it can be unhealthy to blur the line between home and work, doing the same to children by forcing remote learning during a storm is probably not in their best interest. Let them enjoy watching the school closing announcements, and then get them outside to play in the snow. — Lisa Padovano, West Sayville

We all need a “surprise” day off now and then. I know there are all those holidays and the whole summer, but snow days are different. For one reason, they’re surprises, and who doesn’t love that: a reason for the entire family to stay in pajamas all day, eat junk food, play board games, and just drop out of responsibility for a day.

I raised five children on Long Island, all of whom have graduated from college with varying degrees. Three are teachers ranging from elementary school to college level, and all of them still get excited over snow days. It starts the night before: A pot of oatmeal in the crock pot cooks all night, so it reaches that stage where you can almost hang wallpaper with it. Everyone around the dining room table for a change, still in pajamas, laughing, eating, and nobody rushing to go anywhere. I could go on, but I think it’s obvious I vote in favor of snow days!! — Judy Mediatore, Holbrook

There seems to be a big divide on this topic. For some, it’s study, study and study some more. Of course, it can pay off in better, higher-paying careers, etc. However, national suicide rates among 10-to-18-year-olds have risen in recent years. I think kids are overstressed with life’s challenges today for reasons we all know about. This, to me, is a more important issue than fitting in another three hours of classroom learning on snow days. Let the kids frolic in the few snowfalls we get each winter — rarer these days with warming trends. What they “miss“ academically will be more than offset by improved mental health, a carefree day to play in the snow, or sitting by a window and watching it fall. — Michael Filaseta, Ridge

As a retired teacher who spent her entire career on Long Island, I often did look forward to snow days, and so did my students. However, in the 1990s, when we experienced a few years with multiple snow days, even the students began to complain about the number of days off. Makeup days had to be added to the school calendar. At that time, the schools came up with the idea of delayed openings. That worked unless the storm made travel dangerous or impossible for the entire day. It was a good idea and functioned both for instructional purposes and in compliance with the minimum number of school days required by New York State.

While the pandemic has been a horror, it did bring us the technology to teach and learn remotely. Is that the best? We’ve seen with the gaps in children’s learning resulting from the prolonged shutdown that the answer is a resounding no for most students. However, we do have that technology now, and we should use it. It should be an additional tool for inclement weather when conditions warrant. Each school district needs a policy of when to use each of the tools at their disposal, and that would include when it would be appropriate to use a delayed opening, to close schools completely and use a “snow day,” or to use remote learning especially if snow days and delayed openings have already been used. — Maria Studer, Levittown

Schools should continue to have snow days. It doesn’t happen often and only for an isolated day or two. Remote instruction for the most part is largely ineffective and for one random day would be tantamount to an exercise in futility with respect to students actually learning anything. If schools want to expand learning time, try reducing the number of scheduled days off beginning with the winter break in February and the extra days tacked on to other holiday days off. There would be less breaking of academic momentum, and the school year wouldn’t have to stretch to the end of June. — Julie Rossetti, Islip

In my opinion, yes, snow days should be continued.

Some students, especially lower achievers with weaker self-discipline and/or lacking at-home control, will not attend virtual classes and consequently will fall further behind, contributing to the danger of hopelessness and dropping out. Many struggling/indifferent students will develop greater motivation and discipline and undertake higher education if they are helped.

If they wish, higher-achieving, motivated students can supplement their required coursework during snow days by using the virtual student education programs offered by Long Island’s public libraries. Both counties have very strong institutions with cradle-to-grave education as a core mission. — Steve Bard, Happauge