Almost everyone loves a snow day. And for teachers and students, having classes called off because of inclement weather is a tradition of the winter season. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything upside down this year, especially in schools as the transition to remote and virtual learning has caused so many traditions to be scrapped. But, there’s at least one Berkshire County public school district that intends to keep the tradition of snow days alive this winter.
In Lenox, interim Superintendent William Cameron announced at a recent School Committee meeting that the school district will still have snow days this year when snow makes travel difficult. And this will be a real snow day: Even remote learning will be canceled if one is called. That’s good news for those teachers who travel to the classroom to teach students remotely.
According to Mr. Cameron, he and several other schools superintendents across the state had been mulling over switching to all-remote instruction on snow days instead of canceling school altogether because teachers have become so adept at managing the systems that deliver remote instruction to their students. One point of consideration during that deliberation: Without snow days, school years would end on time, he said.
Cameron told The Eagle that state Education Commissioner Jeff Riley has “begrudgingly” ruled that remote-only schooling can count toward the required 180 days of state public school instruction. There’s some merit to that approach, especially in the Berkshires, where we have a lot of rural regional school districts and winters always hold the potential for lots of snow.
Around here, no one wants to be making up snow days until it’s almost July, and there have been years in the Berkshires when some districts have come pretty close. But, Riley decided to leave the decision whether to shut everything down completely to the individual superintendents. Cameron went along with the offer.
Cameron said the Berkshire County Superintendents Roundtable has also discussed the issue, but added, “I may be a trailblazer on this.”
For those who love snow days, Cameron’s decision is welcome news. Blair Dils, an English teacher at Mount Greylock Regional High School, is a big fan. He runs the popular Greylock Snow Day blog, a document that is widely read by students, parents and school staff seeking information on storm predictions and listings of closures and delayed openings. Where some see frustration on snow days, Dils only sees romance.
“There’s something about childhood and the snow day,” Dils recently told The Eagle. “It’s an emotional, sentimental decision, an important part of being a young person going to school in a snowy climate.”
We agree with Dils. There is something romantic about a snow day. And in a year when so many school traditions have been upended, it’s good to see one local superintendent of schools that wants to keep that winter tradition alive.