Making up snow days is unnecessary

Cecilia Saltzman

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Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

When severe weather conditions make it impossible for students to go to school, they shouldn’t have to pay for it by making up the days.

Every winter, as the snow days add up, students and teachers dread the end of the school year, when the snow days have to be made up. For the 2021-2022 school year, MCPS included two extra days in case of severe weather. Already this year, five snow days have been used, so three days will need to be made up. Make-up days are unnecessary for both teachers and students because they create added stress and never include any useful content.

During the last week of the school year, learning stops in most classes and teachers give out unnecessary busy work. Sometimes, students watch movies and play games in their classes. It is pointless to go to school just to sit all day, doing nothing when we could exercise or get together with our friends outside.

Attendance rates are already low towards the end of the year, so if we add days to the end of the year that weren’t originally on the calendar, absences will be even higher. Students have commitments that begin in the summer. Many elementary and middle school students have camps to attend and high school students have jobs they’re committed to starting. Employed high schoolers could lose their jobs or miss their paychecks, as a result.

An alternative to making up snow days would be incorporating them into the year where holidays or professional days would be taken away. Some argue that these days would allow for time to catch up, without adding on days to the end of the year. However, many of the holidays and professional days that could be taken away are on Mondays or Fridays, which create three-day weekends, creating a nice break for students. Many families go on vacation and make plans for those days as well. If those days were reinstated as learning days, those who chose not to go would fall behind, leaving teachers to catch them up, causing extra stress and confusion.

School districts in Maryland can apply for waivers for missed days if the school year does not meet the state-mandated 180 days of instruction. MCPS should use these waivers to excuse students from making up school days. Waivers will be accepted by the State Board of Education if the weather was significantly severe and if school districts demonstrate an effort to continue to provide instruction.

As summer begins, the last thing students want to do is be at school. We shouldn’t have to sit through classes doing useless activities that take away from the time and freedom that students should be enjoying during their summer break. As MCPS considers adding days to the school year, it is imperative that they keep in mind the well-being of the student and staff populations.