I’m out here in Seattle. And its snowing. Hard. The governor called a state of emergency. And things look to be in a bit of a crisis. No more salt. Sold out. No more shovels. Sold out. No snow machines. They don’t exist. And no more sleds. Sold out. Too bad kids. Ice everywhere. Roads on hills are closed down. No one is leaving their homes.
And schools are not opening! Obviously.
I love a good snow day. As a downhill skier and snowshoer, snow days to me are gifts from angels. And I have taken full advantage of the three days I had off last week and the two I have had off so far this week. You could find me writing, reading, walking, playing with my dog, and working on a puzzle. I cleaned and re-cleaned. Meditated and worked out. I mapped out my life in my planner and organized. I reorganized my closets (thank you Marie Kondo) and I completed season one and two on The Marvelous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime. A snow day is a gift.
But I am upper to middle class! I have socio-economic privilege. I have heat, warm food, and plenty of resources for the storm. For many, especially low-income families, snow days can be very complicated. Here are a few concerns I have regarding my own students.
- Snow Days = Parents Don’t Work. There are many people who don’t get paid when they don’t work. They don’t have vacation time and they don’t have sick days. When there is no childcare or school for their children parents have to stay home, which can cause them to be short on rent, bills, or even food. Other times parents are shamed for missing work or even at risk for losing their jobs.
- Snow Days = No Warm Meals. For many children, school is a place where kids can access a warm healthy meal. Many students eat breakfast and lunch at school. When there is no school many of our students go hungry. And if they do get meals at home it often times disrupts the family’s already tight budget. They may have to use money for next week this week. This year I am more worried than every about it because of the federal shut down which caused many of our families who already suffer to get their benefits late.
- Snow Days = Cancelled Activities. Many of our students, especially from low-income families, rely on school activities for fun and socialization. For some, its what keeps them going during the week. Cancelled school means no extracurriculars.
- Snow Day = Disrupted Learning. Students who come from lower socio-economic statuses tend to be the ones who suffer more when school is not held in session. For example, my counseling team had to cancel our Career Day because of a snow day. Career Day is incredibly important for students with low-SES because it exposes them to role models who earn incomes well above their families. The high-SES student most likely have more access to these type of role models!
- Snow Day = No Place of Refuge. Schools are a place of refuge for many of my students. Heat is on. Resources are available. People are there to connect to. Adults to rely on. Things are predictable and consistent. Things feel safe. Not having school can very much disrupt the child’s wellbeing.