The Snow Day Story

Not once during all my years of going to school did I have to worry about being told, “school is going virtual.” That’s primarily because I grew up during a time when the early Apple computers were making their way into schools. You know, the ones that you may have played “Oregon Trail” on?

If anything, the only time school was called off was due to a snowstorm. That happened less and less during my time at Oak Park and River Forest High School (located in Oak Park, Illinois where I grew up). For whatever reason, the folks in charge refused to let even the biggest snowstorm call off school. I vividly remember as a senior in high school waking up one morning and we had received at least 10 inches of snow. I turned on the radio and immediately heard all the area schools announcing they were closed, except for mine.

My brother, Phil, was a freshman that year, and we loaded our things into my 1985 Buick Riviera and made the trek to school. I typically would park around the corner, but that morning I made the choice to drop Phil off at the main entrance. “I’ll go find a spot,” I told him. What I really did was drive to my friend’s house who attended the Catholic high school (Fenwick) and we went sledding all day.

When my mom got the call from the attendance office, she said, “I saw you two leave in the morning, what happened?” Keep in mind, I was a good student at that point who rarely missed a day and had already made post-secondary plans to attend St. Ambrose.

“I just wanted to have fun with my friends before things like this don’t happen anymore.”

Folks, last week we had to make the incredibly difficult decision to send all Muscatine High School hybrid students into the virtual learning module due to rising COVID-19 cases and staffing levels. We continue to be living in incredibly challenging times and if we don’t start to come together, I worry that more decisions like that will have to be considered. Yes, I work for the school district, but I also have two children currently enrolled in in-person learning. For the sake of my children and yours, can we please make more of an effort to do whatever it takes to keep them in school? My children need to be taught in-person. That’s the best way for them to learn and they are not alone.

I would never preach in this column nor tell you what to do because we live in a free country. I will as a parent and community member ask that you are at least mindful of the choices you make and how they could potentially impact our students. We all want this pandemic to be over with, and based on the progress with vaccines, that may be happening sooner than we thought. In the meantime, I will personally be committed to making smarter decisions to ensure our schools can remain in-person.

Wouldn’t it be nice to only have to worry about calling off school because of a snowstorm? For the record, that decision is not mine. My boss knows how much 37-year-old me would love to go sledding with my own children. Be safe, be healthy, and be mindful.