No School, No Work

Even with the technology to do so, NA should not assign work on days cancelled due to severe weather

As+the+district+steadily+moves+closer+to+fulfilling+its+%22Focus+2020%22+technology+initiative%2C+some+worry+that+traditional+snow+days+will+cease+to+exist.
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No School, No Work

As the district steadily moves closer to fulfilling its

As the district steadily moves closer to fulfilling its "Focus 2020" technology initiative, some worry that traditional snow days will cease to exist.

photo by Samantha Solenday

As the district steadily moves closer to fulfilling its "Focus 2020" technology initiative, some worry that traditional snow days will cease to exist.

photo by Samantha Solenday

photo by Samantha Solenday

As the district steadily moves closer to fulfilling its "Focus 2020" technology initiative, some worry that traditional snow days will cease to exist.

Samantha Solenday, Assignments Editor

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Everyone remembers what it was like in elementary school, waiting for that important call while watching the news and trying to catch your school name scroll past on the list of cancellations, knowing that if it was on there, you would have the whole day to do whatever you wished.

With the bonus time of a day off school, some students might wish to get ahead on schoolwork and college or scholarship applications, while others choose to entirely avoid the idea of school in general.

These days, that feeling of wonder and excitement is harder to come by, as snow days are blasted out online before it even makes it on the news and because even with days off, students are still expected to turn in schoolwork.

Last week, NA students lucked out and had three extra, unplanned days off due to extreme wind chills, cold temperatures, and unsafe driving conditions. Knowing that the district might be closed because of the temperatures, several teachers assigned extra worksheets and readings in anticipation, relying on students to constantly check for online updates if the work needed to be changed for any reason.

As the district steadily moves closer to fulfilling its “Focus 2020” technology initiative, some worry that true snow days will cease to exist. Instead of calling off school for the day, the district would be able to send out work and expect that students turn it in without ever setting foot in the halls of school, following neighboring districts that have already taken up these policies of online schooling. At this point, most assignments can be switched from hand-written to typed, although students will lack the instruction that comes with being present in class.

As it is now, teachers do not necessarily have to push back due dates on long-term assignments due to inclement weather, arguing that there was more than just one night to get the project done. I agree with them on that point, but my problem concerns additional work being assigned when there was no school that day.

The other argument for handing out extra work stems from AP classes. Following an AP curriculum requires teachers to teach a full-year course by early May, even though our school year will not end for another month. Even without allocating extra time for review before the exams, many AP classes are already short on time, making it difficult to postpone all class work because of a snowstorm.

Keeping that in mind, I still believe that we should all live by the simple rule that, if there is no school, then there should be no new work.

With an increasing focus on student stress and mindfulness, everyone should be granted this day off with no strings attached. With weather bad enough to cancel school, families are worried about power outages, shoveling driveways, and taking care of loved ones, and they should not have to stop what they are doing to electronically turn in a worksheet or an essay that could easily be due the day school resumes.

Just because districts like NA have the power to pile on work on days deemed too dangerous for students to attend, it does not mean that they should. If students choose to check their email, Blackboard, or Tyler accounts, that should be their decision, but that should not be a requirement on days that entail potential complications at home due to weather.

Moreover, the administration cannot expect students to do online work when school is cancelled because not everyone has reliable internet access at home. During the school day, online work can be done during homerooms, study halls, and lunch periods, but without those times available, it might be impossible for some students to turn in work.

Additionally, when school was cancelled in November due to the unexpected power outages, the NA email server was down, making it impossible to check any messages and assignments that might have appeared since school ended the previous afternoon.

The expectation that students should be working at all hours of the week, even when there is no school, is outrageous, and we should treat it as such. We all deserve a little time off, whether it is planned or not. The next time we have a snow day, I wish you nothing but a safe place to stay and an extra warm blanket.