DENVER – For some, snow days create significant memories in a student’s life. But in a school year that’s been anything but normal and filled with interruptions because of COVID-19, does it remain a necessity?
For Ashleigh Boroff and her son, it’s an easy answer.
"It’s the perfect day to create a memory," said Boroff.
Boroff's son, Jace, is in the third grade and is a student in Jeffco Public Schools, one of the few districts that chose to stick with remote learning as an overnight storm dumped more than a foot of snow across many parts of the Denver metro area overnight.
But instead of going to school, Boroff decided to keep her son home to enjoy a snow day.
"I really think kids are being taught, you know, to grow up and be disciplined and have their responsibilities – which is great – but it’s kind of the only spontaneous vacation break that kids get," said Boroff.
In Highlands Ranch, two high school seniors in the Douglas County School District didn’t let their snow day go to waste either.
"I’m not opposed to a snow day. It’s like a rite of passage here in Colorado," said one of the snowboarders who did not wish to be identified for this story.
Other parents don’t see a problem with getting rid of snow days in favor of remote learning.
“I’m OK with it but only because we have older kids,” said Laura Read, a parent of two kids in Denver Public Schools. “I can only imagine if you’re in a different situation it might have been… (you may have) had a different answer.”
As snow started piling up Wednesday night, Denver Public Schools announced it would shift to 100% remote live instruction on Thursday with a two-hour delay so teachers could adjust their lesson plans.
A spokesperson for DPS released the following statement when asked about the decision:
“We understand that this shift to remote learning on short notice does present challenges. Our students have already lost so much learning time, and we feel it’s important to do whatever we can to maximize academic instruction and support this school year by shifting in-person students to remote learning.”
Amie Baca-Oehlert, the president of the Colorado Education Association, has been in education long enough to know it’s impossible to make everyone happy when it comes to snow days. She said switching to remote learning at the last minute can leave teachers scrambling too.
“It is really challenging. I think we saw firsthand just how challenging that was last spring when we had to completely flip to remote learning very quickly,” said Baca-Oehlert.
Douglas County School District officials told Denver7 Thursday the decision to opt for a snow day Thursday was made “with student and staff safety top of mind.”
Aurora Public Schools closed and said in a tweet, “We are cancelling remote learning because we did not provide advanced notice of the potential closure as noted under our new protocol.”
From their part, officials with the Jeffco Public Schools decided to switch to remote learning, “because it provided the opportunity to continue the learning, while also keeping students, families, and school buses off the roads following a stormy night.”
But is there a balance between education and relaxation?
Jason Siedel, with the Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence, says the mental health benefits of a snow day are huge.
"Being stuck at home makes it matter so much more. There is so much less that you are able to do every day compared to life as usual, so any glimmer of freedom or extra fun, we have to capitalize on that," said Siedel.
Whether it’s being outside snowboarding or playing at home, snow day holds a special place for many Coloradans.
"Think about what you remember from childhood and if you grew up in a climate that had snow, you remember those snow days, they were important and they stick for a reason," said Siedel.
With remote learning as an option for many districts, the future of these coveted days are now up in the air.
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