A Michigan school district that has kept students out of the classroom since March due to the coronavirus pandemic raised eyebrows this week after granting kids a “virtual snow day.”
Ann Arbor Public Schools canceled virtual classes on Tuesday due to heavy snowfall across the region. In a message to families, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift called it a “personal wellness day” where students can “take a break from the screen, read a book, and enjoy the snow.”
“While everyone has worked together to ensure learning continues virtually, we have missed many of the simple joys that make our time together memorable,” Ms. Swift wrote in the message that was posted to Facebook. “As this COVID pandemic continues, stress is high and wellness is more important than ever. Snow days are opportunities for children, young people, and adults to play in the snow, read books, take a break, and enjoy the winter season. These days are unexpected opportunities to make memories, to have fun and to celebrate community. We don’t want to lose them.”
The decision to cancel virtual classes sparked a wave of mixed reactions from parents.
Martha Bagnall expressed frustration that the snow day came after kids already had Friday and Monday off for winter break and President’s Day.
“This is awful,” Ms. Bagnall said, MLive reported. “We have all-remote learning today (after a 4-day weekend) and tomorrow is also remote, and frankly I am not sure which is worse — having to corral kids to sit in front of computer, or having no school at all. End of the rope is right.”
Kate Bauer responded to the district’s statement on Facebook, writing, “My children have missed so much education with no school at all last spring and short days/no Wednesdays this school year. This is incredibly irresponsible and tone deaf. Also most parents don’t just get to decide to take a snow day and go sled. We work, and we’re working our butts off trying to make up for AAPS’s failures while maintaining our real jobs.”
Brandon Bachler responded on Facebook: “This is a great decision. Zoom fatigue is very real, especially for the younger students. Snow days are a part of their normal school lives, so it’s good to have the same consideration even in a virtual setting. And this is from a household where both parents work full time.”
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