School reopened after the Christmas holidays today. (Note: I am supposed to say “Winter Break” as per the politically correct drivel that is produced by my school district and many other school districts. I refuse to call it that. It is a vacation period that exists solely because Christmas exists. Everybody, even those who don’t celebrate Christmas, knows this. So let’s call it what it is, people. It’s not about respect, it’s about a two-week holiday. Just a holiday. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.)
We had yet another dump of snow last night, starting about dinnertime. Rain had been predicted, but instead we got snow. We were unprepared. It was chaos. There was sheer ice underneath the new snow, so driving was extremely hazardous. Even well-travelled main arteries were closed, they were so dangerous. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)
In the midst of all this came the wail, “But school starts tomorrow! What shall we do?”
I’ll tell you what my school district did: nothing. The decision was made to have all the schools reopen as planned. Except for the schools where there was some danger due to all the snow (like a sagging roof or fallen tree). Or the power was out. Or not enough teachers were able to get there to actually run classes. Or the sun and moon and stars were aligned in some mystical configuration.
Several neighbouring school districts announced by 6:30 in the morning that all their schools would be closed. My district did not. Decisions to send kids home from a few schools in my district were made in a rather haphazard fashion. Two of my colleagues this morning told stories about finally arriving at other schools to drop off their own kids, after an arduous and snowy journey there, only to be told by an administrator that the school was closed and the kids who made it in were being sent home. What were parents supposed to do then? How could you make child-care arrangements in such a situation?
To add insult to injury, my district has decreed that in the event of a snow day, teachers are still expected to show up for work. If we do not, we do not get paid for the day. Huh?!? So the kids don’t have to come but we do? It’s too hazardous for the kids to get there (many of whom live close enough to walk), but it’s fine for the teachers (most of whom live too far to walk and must drive because a lot of elementary schools aren’t on bus routes)?
If the schools are closed because of weather, then I think they should be closed for everyone. Teachers (and other staff members) are as important as the kids, and if it’s dangerous for kids, it’s dangerous for everyone who works in the building. In addition, it’s probably very dicey driving to work on such a day – and you couldn’t really work normally anyway because the kids wouldn’t be there. And while I understand the concept of “No-work-equals-no-pay”, surely some contingency plan can be put into place when our workplace is shut down due to circumstances beyond everybody’s control – maybe some form of employment insurance or partial pay?
But I think what bugs me the most is that my school was open, I made it to work okay (though I had to drive extremely cautiously and slowly on the icy patches), and most of the kids showed up. I couldn’t sleep in, stay in my jammies till noon, drinking lattés, and reading all my favourite blogs. Recess is over, kids.