Friday, March 20, 2015

A day we knew would happen

A Day We Knew Would Happen

Snow falling on a school playground, in Arizona!
(Hint: They still went to school. No one was hurt.)
1:45 PM 3/20 - If you were a student or teacher in a Maryland school system today, chances are you had the unique experience of watching snow fall outside while IN CLASS. At least your teachers didn't ban you from looking at it, right? (Article from the UK Daily Mail about that earlier this year.)

If you felt cheated out of a snow day just because snow was occurring during the business day, consider looking at it this way: Today was glimpse into the way life used to be, in Maryland and most other places.

For decades until the early 2000s, in many parts of the country other than the south, it was rare for school to be canceled for minor amounts of snow. Forecasters and Advisors of our team remember times when roads would be snow-covered, traffic snarled, but the yellow buses moved about the region -- with the old-style chains on the tires. In suburban Philadelphia, a generally accepted rule among some of the township-based districts was that at least 4" had to be on the ground before there was even a consideration of school closing. 

Snowy walk to the bus stop (in Colorado)
The author remembers many days like this.
Photo credit:
In the mid 1990's, as old time Baltimore County teachers may recall, one particularly snow-hardy Superintendent was famously reticent to cancel school, even when parking lots were unplowed and streets barely passable. He did acquiesce once in 1994, when heavy snow was burying the schools and roads alike -- legend has it that as buses arrived in parking lots to drop off students, administrators were out waving them away and telling drivers to take the kids back! I think our communication and public safety strategies have improved a tad since then. 

The difference that we grant is a major factor in weather hazard management is simply population growth: Millions more people reside in areas that were once farmland. More people means more roads and a larger scope of responsibility for the counties and states charged with maintaining those roads.

But, for now, consider today a brief look into the way things once were as a matter of regular life. Snow fell. Kids went to school. Life went on. We recognize that since those days before the internet and social media, people frustrated with something a school district did or didn't do had only a couple options -- call the district, write a letter or attend a school board meeting. Then as now, there has always been the fourth option: Resiliency.  

Having once taught in non-air conditioned schools for many years, it was always nice when the school year ended on a Friday, so we all didn't have to trudge back in the humidity for one more day. This year, if we all can stay strong and resilient even when it's snowing during class, maybe-- just maybe you can avoid celebrating the first day of SUMMER... still in class.

From a fellow Powderhound,
Mr. Foot

1 comment:

Julee said...

I DID watch the snow falling in the school library courtyard today. A beautiful tranquil scene (if you didn't count the juncos fighting the cardinals for the bird seed that I had provided earlier in the morning). Several kids came in to eat their lunch the library and they watched the falling snow as well. Had a calming, contemplative effect on some of them.
We have teachers who close their blinds when it snows because they think the kids get all riled up and don't pay attention, but I think that's sad. Snowfall is a rare and beautiful phenomenon that I think everyone should be able to enjoy while it lasts.