Editorial: Snowday memories are under attack

There are few childhood moments more sacred than waking up, refreshing a Twitter feed and running outside to build a snowman. But hold onto your hats, because snow days are under attack.

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in early 2021 that allowed school districts to convert snow days into virtual learning days. When the bill was introduced, it slipped and slid down the slopes of the legislature, but then came to an abrupt halt when certain members of the House of Delegates began raising concerns that the bill would permanently end snow days as we know it. In response, the bill was watered down just a little with a limit that schools can only use no more than ten virtual learning days per school year. The legislation picked up the pace, passing the House 75-25 and the Senate unanimously, and was signed into law by then-Governor Ralph Northam.

Especially coming towards two years of isolation during a deadly pandemic, students need the mental health holiday that comes with a snow day: the opportunity to sleep in, drink hot chocolate and participate in a snowball fight with neighborhood kids. Despite what some politicians in Richmond may think, teachers, administrators and parents can’t merely flip a switch and expect lesson plans to convert to Zoom.

It’s ironic, as well, that last year’s legislation to end snowdays was written and supported by Republicans. The same Republicans who rightfully raised the alarm about the negative impacts of virtual learning also voted to make some aspects of virtual learning permanent, well beyond the pandemic.

The children of Virginia are asking, “Do you want to build a snowman?” and Virginia politicians have replied with a firm “No.”