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Adams Administration to NYC Children: Snow Days Are ‘Long Gone’

What does it say that we now live in a world where our parked cars get snow days but our children don't?

1:31 PM EST on February 12, 2024

Children sled on a hill in Brooklyn in 2017.

Children sled in Brooklyn on a snow day on February 9, 2017. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

One crucial lesson New York City's children aren't learning in school? What a snow day feels like.

With a winter storm expected to drop 5 to 8 inches of snow across the city on Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams preemptively announced that the 1.1 million kids in NYC public schools will be expected to attend school remotely. (To get the message out, @NYC311 necessarily if cruelly tagged the announcement #SnowDay)

At a press conference outside the Sanitation Department's Spring Street salt shed on Monday afternoon, Adams defended his decision to rob future generations of children of the experiences of his own youth.

"COVID took months if not years away from the education and the socialization of our children. We need to minimize how many days our children are just sitting at home making snowmen like I did, and they need to catch up," Adams said.

Schools Chancellor David Banks insisted he was not a "Grinch," and pointed out that the kids would be done with their remote lessons by 3 p.m., so they'd still have time to play in the snow (though not much daylight to work with). Banks added that having a remote learning apparatus ready to replace a snow day was "one of the good things that emerged from the pandemic." (Banks's predecessor also killed snow days with remote learning, no pandemic necessary.)

"Long gone are the days of just a snow day and everyone just has off," Banks said. "If your child is in the 3rd grade, as an example, they will show up online with their teacher at the same time that they wouldn't normally do it in school and having regular session of school."

How did we get here? What does it say that we now live in a world where our parked cars get snow days but our children don't?

Defenders of the No Snow Day policy may point to the fact that the City has only canceled schools for snow less than two dozen times since the late 1970s—we live in a society with snowplows after all.

And yes, shutting down schools means that parents have to scramble to make plans for childcare and meals (though remote learning creates many of the same problems).

Counterpoint: As New York City moves from a place with four seasons to a town with a subtropical climate, how much snowfall are future generations of kids going to actually experience? In this context, isn't a snow day less like a waste of time and more like a field trip into the past? 

And it's not as if the City has been historically consistent about when to call a snow day or not. 27 inches in 2006? Schools open. 21 inches in 2010? Schools closed. 10 inches in 2014? Schools open. A few paltry inches in March of 2019? Schools closed, perhaps for the last recorded snow day ever

Think of all the stuff kids won't learn, because they're not outside, putting in hours in the snow. They'll be ignorant of when to hop on a plastic garbage can top and when a metal cylinder is best. They won't know how long you can go with soaked mittens before you have to go inside and take a break. They'll be unable to take a snowball upside the head without blubbering too much about it. And they won't learn the lesson that sometimes, acts of God are merciful, and that adults haven't figured it all out because a bunch of fluffy snow can throw their plans into chaos!

Anyway, see you in class. 

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