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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Myth of Snow Days

            It starts with one teacher’s whisper.
            “Six to nine on Wednesday.”
            “That’s four days away.”
            “Trust me.”
            Saturday becomes Sunday. The week already feels long, and it hasn’t begun.
            “MNO now has it up to double digits based on conditions in the Midwest.”
            “Depending on the wind, the storm could travel north.”
            “A near miss might still produce seven inches.”
            “A wide miss would leave us with three.”
            “Many of our students live in the sticks. They don’t plow there until the storm is done. No superintendent is going to take a chance on getting students hurt.”
            “That’s it; I’m buying!”
Monday arrives. Students are chattering about accumulation.
“Hey, Teach, what are you doing with your snow day?”
            “Teaching you.”
            Typical response from a student:
            “I’ll be snowboarding with my new gear.”
            Proper teacher response to a student:
            “Remember that near-miss we had after Thanksgiving? You thought that was a three-day weekend. It wasn’t, so do your homework!”
            Teacher’s inner monologue:
            “I don’t want to get my hopes up for nothing, but I really think this prediction is for real. A day off to sleep in and binge-watch Netflix… Awesome!”
            “If it snows that much, you’ll be shoveling all day because you chose to buy a laptop instead of a snow blower. That’s no sleeping in or Netflix.”
            “How bad can this snowstorm be? It’s been really cold, so I’ll be shoveling powder!”
            “If you believe that, you’re going to need to schedule a massage in advance!”
            It’s Tuesday and school has ended. For two days, both students and teachers lacked any enthusiasm. Assignments were still given, but everyone is procrastinating as everyone’s fate is about to be decided.
“If school is out tomorrow, they won’t open on time Thursday. That’s a two-hour delay!”
            “What if it misses us?”
            “Think positive!”
Everyone is buying the hype and the bread, milk, and eggs.
            Response from Mary the Weather Forecaster at XYZ:
“We’re starting to see the western half of the state experiencing serious accumulation. Mind you, our forecast for the east is still dependent on many variables and what happens over the mountains in the central part of the state, but I find it likely that we’ll be getting five inches by 10:30AM. We’ll know more at 10:00PM.”
Response from the school’s superintendent:
            “If I call this for nothing, I’m going to face parents’ wrath. If I make them wait until tomorrow morning for an answer that we already know, they’ll hate me. I wonder what Jenkins did over at Central?”
            Response from Jenkins:
            “Why does everyone look to me to make the first call? I did it once with the call-offs last February when XYZ predicted that blizzard. Now, they expect me to do it every time. At least that time, we had flurries before we got two feet of snow and a three-day vacation.”
            Response from Snyder at Union:
            “I’m done waiting for Jenkins. I’m calling this on the strength of Mary the Weather Forecaster on XYZ’s proven predictions. After all, she is a proud graduate of Union.”
            Response from Griggs at National:
            “I’m not calling anything until morning, no matter what Snyder does.” 
            All of the local schools call off, except National. Flurries begin at 7:00AM. By 1:00PM, there are three inches of slushy snow.
The teachers who had to shovel complained about the heft of the work. The kids slept in until 10:30AM, and texted friends all day. Many of the adults complained about finding babysitters until they were reminded that snow equals icy roads and pavements, and kids could get hurt. In the end, the day came and went for everyone except Griggs, who was still answering irate messages about the inconveniences of his school’s early dismissal.
            The next day, everyone got a delay and an extension on the homework until the next time the class met since procrastination won. In the end, the snowstorm was more work and time to make up some other way, and that meant summer schooldays.

            For the next two weeks, everyone remembered the myth of snow days, at least until MNO posted an article about a three-foot blizzard waiting to happen.

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