By Alejandro Ramos
Will snow days be a desire of the past? The year 2020 has been like nothing we have ever seen before. It has been the year of struggle, uncertainty, and fear. In this time of unprecedented events, aside from small businesses, education has been severely impacted. I am a college student that attends a public institution here in New Jersey. Results from the pandemic, like budget cuts, have just been unfathomable.
For us students, the past year or so has been a huge adjustment; remote learning, being home from college, learning new programs, and for many, becoming the sole earner of the household. I think I speak for all college students when I say that the past two semesters have been a game of juggling school, work, and our sanity. The truth is that we are not the only ones who are suffering. Our educators had to adjust very quickly, and they stepped up big time. Not only at the college level, but all grades.
I sympathize for the current generation of students K-12. Sure, it has been difficult on college students, but we are more mature and do not need as much assistance. I cannot imagine being a high school student during the pandemic. I was an extremely involved student, being Student Council President my senior year and Class President for all four years. It is difficult being cooped up and not being able to go to school, especially for seniors. Students and educators alike are stuck behind a screen all day. At a minimum, they are online for the duration of the school day and maybe even longer if they have assignments to be completed or agendas to be planned. The dedication and motivation on both ends to wake up in the morning and look presentable, at least from the waist up, is incredible. If I were in their shoes, I would be snoozing my alarm clock every morning!
I’m currently sitting in my office typing this, watching my favorite TV show, and hearing little pieces of ice hit my window. During the winter season, every student looks forward to at least one snow day. Students typically stay up late waiting to get the phone call that school has been cancelled or get woken up by the news the following morning.
Many institutions and districts have made the decision to keep students remote on what typically would be a snow day because of all the great technology that allows us to do so. But at what expense? Students within every school system are getting restless and missing what school was like prior to the pandemic. Educators are exhausted. Many of them not only run the classrooms for their jobs, but they are now at home helping their children through the remote process too. They give it their all, but at the end of the day we are all human.
We don’t need snow days just to create memories by building snowmen, making snow angels, and starting the ultimate family snowball fight. We need snow days for a much needed and well-deserved mental day. According to the CDC, thoughts of suicide are growing across the board for students, but especially in those ages 18-24. Anxiety and depression rates are also increasing. Speak and advocate to your local boards for those who can’t. Help them say yay and not nay to snow days.
Alejandro J Ramos is an advocate for changes in the education system from the local districts to higher education. A 2019 graduate from Cliffside Park High School, he is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish, Economics, and Leadership at Ramapo College of New Jersey.