Monday, April 12, 2021

Snow days may be history

| March 14, 2021 12:00 AM

It was only a matter of time, I suppose. The technology-driven remote-learning capabilities that settled in during the pandemic now threaten to take away one of the most prized of student “holidays” — the snow day.

In Minnesota, St. Paul Public Schools already have made the decision to use “E-Learning days” instead of snow days, according to the Star-Tribune. Those poor St. Paul students will have to turn on their laptops and it’s class as usual. Not even a good, old-fashioned Minnesota blizzard will stop kids from learning.

Other school districts in the northern states no doubt will follow suit, especially because it can be difficult for schools to make up snow days before the end of the school year. Yes, the handwriting is on the wall, which I realize is now an archaic saying since cursive handwriting is on its way to becoming obsolete.

Even locally, we’ve seen evidence that virtual classroom instruction is here to stay. Flathead High School recently moved to remote instruction while the school hosted the Class AA state boys wrestling tournament.

The thought of kids not knowing the pleasure of a snow day makes me sad. I remember the delight of a day with no agenda, no homework, no obligations, and I remember how my own kids savored those days. Generations of students have burst into complete giddiness when hearing their school had called a snow day.

Snow days were commonplace in northern Minnesota where I grew up on a dairy farm. Recent news articles have taken note of the anniversary of the March 2-5, 1966 blizzard that dropped more than 50 inches of snow in places and took the lives of 14 people who perished in the storm. I remember that blizzard. We didn’t have school much of that week, and a three-day game of Monopoly occupied most of our time. The visibility was so bad Dad barely made it back and forth to the barn to milk the cows.

Snowstorms could come up quickly in that region, and because of that every farm family had to designate a town family to shelter their kids, should a blizzard prevent the school buses from delivering the rural children. That happened only once during my school years. I was in the second grade, my older brother in fourth grade when the buses barely made it through the drifts to our designated town family. Because about 80% of the students lived in the country, those few city folks wound up with a bunch of kids.

By the time we got to Bob and Donna Solum’s house, I trudged through thigh-high drifts. Their house was crawling with kids, and Donna did what any self-respecting Minnesota housewife would do: she made mountains of macaroni-hamburger hotdish and bowls of strawberry Jell-O to feed her newly acquired tribe. We stayed overnight, and I can’t recall if we all eventually went back to school or if the buses took us home.

As the inevitable death knell tolls for our beloved snow days, I treasure the memories of those stolen days and extra helpings of family time they gave us.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or