The Art of a Snow Day 

Claire Arneson, Editor

As the crunchy leaves are soon to be covered with snow, most of the cold days and snow days will start to rack up this year, but these past years, no school-snow-days lacked a bit of nostalgia. When I was younger and saw the announcement that our district was closed on tv, the phone started ringing as the school called, and my little sister and I were delighted. Now that I have been in college, I can still say I feel some of that giddiness like I did when I was younger. Yet, with Covid-19 forcing us to distance learning for a year, have we lost the snow day we know and love? Instead of staying in bed and not going to class, we have to hop on Zoom and pretend to listen to a lecture. After all that Covid-19 has taken from us, have we lost our special snow day?

One of the first questions I ask is how does the university decide when it is necessary to cancel school due to cold weather? After navigating the University of North Dakota website to find answers, google ultimately brought me to the University School of Medicine and Health Sciences webpage. Under the Campus Closure tab, the only information we are given following the Inclement Weather Policy says, “the Medical Education Center follows NDSU’s lead for weather-related closures or local emergencies (i.e., weather warnings or flooding). If NDSU closes, no classes are held, and the MEC is closed. No staff or faculty are expected for administrative duties.” But why are we following guidelines in Fargo when we are farther north and experience different weather than them?

After being disappointed with this answer, I decided to try and find other guidelines for other schools in the Midwest. Unfortunately, I could not find anything about the Grand Forks Public Schools and their policies for weather and cancellation, so I turned to another source that I knew all too well: my high school. Champlin Park High School, located in my hometown of Champlin, Minnesota, relies on the National Weather Service to determine whether or not to close. They state, “if the National Weather Service issues a “wind chill warning” stating that exposed skin can become frostbitten in less than 15 minutes, the district will likely decide to close.” The district – Anoka Hennepin – decides to close usually before 5:30 AM allowing time for both parents and children to prepare for the day to come.

How does this compare now? To start, we do not get the notification that school is canceled as early as we should. Just this past year in Febuary, when the Friday before presidents day weekend was canceled, students were furious that the university did not decide sooner to cancel. The students were angry because they wanted to leave early to make it home before the storm hit and ruined their plans for traveling. Looking back at the emails that I have gotten regarding closing, they are not sent out at a consistent time at all. I have an email sent at 7:30 AM, and another sent at 8:30 AM. This does not give enough time to those who have 8 AM classes or need to work around this to plan out their day.

Even if classes are canceled, it seems professors are going rogue and either holding classes over Zoom or holding classes regardless of the university calls. With COVID-19 pushing us to conduct distance learning online for the duration of the 2020 spring semester, does that mean we no longer get a day off when school is closed? While talking to classmates, many have complained that even if the school decides to give us a day off, they are still required to log on to Zoom and attend class. It is safe to assume that without Covid-19 to thank for this form of teaching, we would not have to log on to the computer when we could be sleeping.

Many mornings I have woken up and dreaded getting out of bed to brave the cold to get to my classes. I have often bundled up and headed outside, and the wind was so abrasive I cried. Unfortunately, without a helpful guide from the university on what constitutes the school to close for weather, the students are left playing “Will They Won’t They” on whether they brave the outdoors or stay inside. With distance learning, we have lost the delight of a snow day.


 Claire Arneson is a Dakota Student Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].