By the end of this week students in Stevens County public and private schools will have experienced at least six days of snow days.
Extreme cold, wind and snow and the most recent blizzard have forced schools to cancel classes. At Morris Area Schools and St. Mary's Catholic Schools students have been able to use eLearning, an option in which students and teachers use electronic devices to communicate and work. In other schools, teachers have been able to provide students with assignments in advance or through electronic means when possible.
Getting school assignments in advance or through eLearning are all good options. But neither were designed for the lengthy use of the past two weeks.
In short, snow days are getting old. Snow days are draining for kids, families and school staff.
Thank you to everyone who has risen to the challenge of snow days.
The challenges with snow days aren't just how kids can learn in these days from school, it's also a challenge for parents and guardians who need to juggle a revamped schedule.
In Minnesota, 81 percent of women work outside the home. More than half of our country's families have two working parents.
Who misses work when a child, who is too old for daycare but too young to be at home, is away from school? Adults may be able to take paid time off to stay home with a child but if they did this each day, that's six days. Some adults may be working at jobs with 10 days of paid time off. They may have already used five or three or two of those days. They may be planning to use more days off for appointments or even vacation.
We've got two more months of winter left. What happens when the paid time off runs out?
Thank you to friends or grandparents, older siblings and others who've stepped in as a temporary caregiver when Jane or John needed to be home from school.
Snow days don't only impact the families and the students. A community feels the ripples of snow days.
Thank you to the public libraries who provide books, movies, games and computers for kids to use while home from school. Granted, the libraries may have had to close on some snow days, but most managed to stay open for many hours during the snow days. Thank you to the library staff members who helped with homework.
Thank you to the daycare providers that adjusted to late openings and early closing of businesses that employ the parents of their daycare children. Thank you for helping with eLearning or other assigned schoolwork.
Thank you to the snow plow operators and the folks who clear out driveways. It was cold and it was windy but without your work we couldn't get to work and home from work.
To everyone who understood when a kid was cranky at the store, or when a coworker complained about yet another snow day, thank you.
And if snow days are tough on children and adults, think about the elderly person who can't go outside because of cold, ice and wind. Thank you to volunteers and staff that deliver meals to those at home during these days. Thank you the neighbor who stops for a visit or the friend who makes the phone call.
These have been stressful days for children and adults. It is a shame that we call can't take a snow day when it's 30 degrees, calm and sunny. But since that's not likely to happen, we will plod our way through, thankfully, with the help of others, we will make it through February and March.