Are Greylock Snow Days a Thing of the Past?


Photo Courtesy of The Billings Gazette

As the Berkshires inch closer to another inevitably cold and precipitous winter, there is one thought on everybody’s minds: we still get snow days, right?

In the era of Zoom school and virtual learning, the decision seems like a no brainer. By this point in the year, students and teachers alike have become accustomed to both teaching and learning from home. On especially snowy days, it wouldn’t be hard for the school to switch to entirely remote. Also, without snow days, the year has the potential to finish on schedule. 

That being said, the Greylock administration has made no official decision on the future of snow days. In North Adams, the neighboring school district, snow days seem to be a thing of the past. 

On Monday, Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Roberts-Morandi announced that “in the event of inclement weather that would force the closing of schools, we shift to a fully remote learning.” 

However, all hope is not lost for the snow day enthusiast. Lenox, another neighboring school system, made the opposite call. In a recent BerkshireEagle article, Clarence Fanto reported that when snow fall meets the parameters that would close school in years past, instruction for the day— including remote instruction —will be canceled.

The Echo sat down with Blair Dils, editor-in-chief of the popular weather predicting blog, Greylock Snow Day, to discuss these developments. 

“From a purely romantic point of view, we better retain these things because they’re the real fun days of winter,” Dils said. “I’ve discovered this at every school I’ve worked at, there’s an interest in the snow day that’s just gold. People love to speculate, they love to guess ‘do we get days off—do we have to pay for it in June?’”

As Dils explained to the BerkshireEagle, “There is something about childhood and the snow day. It’s an emotional, sentimental decision, an important part of being a young person going to school in a snowy climate.” 

Mia VanDeurzen, a senior, agreed with Dils’ sentiments: “I think snow days were always really fun for me growing up. It was always so exciting to wake up and find out I had the day off.” 

VanDeurzen’s opinion may be a smidge different from the average student at Greylock. As a senior, she would not have to make up the extra school days in June. 

Still, Jude Barzousky, a freshman, said the same thing. Barzousky said, “No, I would not care about running a little late at the end of the year. Snow days are worth it.” 

But the administration also has to consider the position snow days put parents in. 

“There’s a conundrum because of the extra pressure put on parents by the snow day. At the middle school and highschool level there may be less disruption to the workday of the parents because the kids are a little more self reliant,” Dils said. “If you have paid days off, it might be a nice opportunity to frolic with your kids in the snow, although not everybody has that privilege.” 

At an elementary school level, a plethora of snow days could have a huge impact on the lives of parents, who are often already scrambling as is.

In some cases, though, virtual instruction may be impossible. As Lenox’s Superintendent noted, there is an enormous reliance on power this year to complete a day of school. In the event of a large winter storm, that power may not be available. 

Mount Greylock draws students and staff from all across the county. It seems unlikely that a day where snow has prevented travel would not affect the power for at least a handful of students and teachers. 

“I guess the argument against the snow day,” Dils said, “is that we only have these two days a week as it is with students in person. To lose one of two those days where students can engage with their teacher’s in person could be really damaging. In terms of mental health, another day of isolation might not be the best way to fix these problems.” 

Given that snow days often bring to mind rest and relaxation, the decision making process is fairly complex, especially given the added factor of virtual learning. This complexity is not lost on Principal Schutz who said the administration will just have to use “common sense” regarding the decision.  

“I think Mount Greylock will take a measured approach,” Schutz said. “[The] decision will come from [Superintendent] Dr. McCandless. As soon as I know of a Remote Day or Snow Day for MG you will receive a robo call and email. We’ll be sure to indicate whether it’s a Remote Day or a Snow Day.” 

The statement presents the possibility that Greylock will take a neutral stance, accepting the possibility of a few fully remote learning days and a few full snow days. 

Dils saw positives in this option: “Many snow days may be a problem, but a well timed one, if the power goes out, if it’s just too dangerous, then that should be when you call the full snow day.” 

“Most of us love snow days, especially me,” Schutz said. “I think we use this opportunity (or silver lining) to our advantage and find a balance where we had little control in years past.”