Is it really a snow day if remote learning is required? Photo: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

After a very spring-like weekend, families were notified Monday morning that New York City public schools would be moving to remote learning due to Tuesday’s impending snowstorm. According to the correspondence sent out by the Department of Education, students would receive both synchronous and asynchronous instruction throughout the school day, and attendance would be taken for each class. Students with an IEP who receive mandated services would still receive these services remotely.

Most parents felt it should have been a classic snow day

For many families, it was their first time experiencing remote learning, but plenty of others had seen enough during the height of the pandemic. Mom Kristen Ashley said, “Just let them enjoy a damn snow day! My daughter hasn’t had one in years. I’m tired of this remote crap, we had enough of it during Covid.” And many simply felt that their kids deserved the same snow days they experienced in their childhood. A mom named Jennie said she realizes not everyone has the luxury of time, but she’s old-fashioned, and “a snow day is a snow day. My girl is going to play hooky- and so am I.”

For parents who work from home, many of the sentiments about remote learning gave me Covid flashbacks. “How do they expect parents to work and also guide a 5- or 6-year-old with remote learning? Definitely a snow day!” Michelle Calderon told us.

Obviously, staying home wasn’t even an option for a lot of parents- many had to arrange childcare or bring their kids to work. So at the very least, some were grateful that the DOE made the call early. “Parents were able to make arrangements for their children being at home, rather than [doing it] last-minute and then having to scramble around to make sure someone can watch the children,” Cristina Cruz Perez shared.

Luckily, some families were able to take advantage of childcare offered for families in need. Thanks to a class group chat, one parent let others know that both Playday Long Island City and Dance Matters in Astoria were hosting day camps that support remote learning. 

And for other families, the logistics proved to be a challenge.  “They should get a regular snow day just like before Covid,” said Yvette Clement. “Some kids still don’t have the ability to be remote. My kids are in two different charter schools- my elementary daughter has no school, but my high schooler has some type of modified remote schedule.” 

Ashley Rivera agrees. “Families with multiple kids in small NYC apartments, [that’s not] an ideal situation for remote learning- especially if live lessons happen at the same time. I feel it comes with more distractions,” she said. But since they are striving for perfect attendance, Rivera said her children would be online.  

By Monday afternoon, most parents received instructions for how Tuesday would work. Jen Clarke Geib told us her eighth grader would check in live on Zoom at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for attendance. Work would be done independently between those times and posted in Google Classroom. She also said that their midterm was rescheduled until after the upcoming winter break. Gleib also feels the kids should have just been off. “I think they should have a snow day like we did when we were kids. We hardly get any snow anymore, so if we’re gonna get some, may as well enjoy it!”

Teachers are keeping the bar low

Aurora Dominguez told us that most public schools were given directives about a schedule for the day. “For example, Zoom link or Google Meet link [had to be] kept active from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with activities posted on Google Classroom. As a parent, I’d rather cozy up with blankets, hot chocolate, and play in the snow,” she said.

High school teacher Olivia Ramirez told us that after a brief intro, she will be available the entire period through Zoom for questions but will assign work that the students can complete on their own. “Realistically speaking, it’s going to be a bit of a mess since we are all out of practice, so I’m keeping the bar low while complying with my contractual obligations (i.e synchronous instruction),” she said. “Personally, I wish we would let students enjoy a snow day, but that seems to be a thing of the past.”

One kindergarten and first-grade teacher told us that she sent home a packet and asked parents to check in with her in the morning to take attendance because she wanted them to enjoy the snow day. But another kindergarten teacher in the Bronx told us they were advised the superintendent and other officials would be popping into the classroom, so she would be online with students and teaching all subjects as normal. 

Students aren’t thrilled

Eva, a senior at Brooklyn Latin, said that she personally didn’t have an issue with it. “My school is very considerate when it comes to our workload, so teachers don’t assign much work on remote days. Instead, they give us the time to catch up and get ahead on assignments,” she said.

But Mirilee at Lehman High School in the Bronx doesn’t agree. “I think it’s unfair because I feel as though if Covid never happened, they wouldn’t get the idea of doing remote learning at all on a snow day. Now they have the choice, but we should be able to enjoy our time off,” She said.

Wafeeq, another Lehman student, is strongly against remote learning and said that he believes it does not have any actual benefits and instead “wastes time when students could be using that time to rest or catch up on any other work they might have.”

So how did it go?

By Tuesday morning, Twitter was flooded with images of tablet screens saying “server down”- blaming the mayor and schools chancellor for poor preparation. Around 8:30 a.m., NYC Schools tweeted that they were “currently experiencing issues with services that require IBM authentication to login. We are actively working with IBM to resolve. We will provide an update as soon as possible.” One user replied, “Karma for ruining childhood by encouraging kids to be staring at a screen for 6 hours instead of playing in the snow.” The mayor didn’t seem to feel bad and actually blamed parents for not helping their kids with remote learning.

Meanwhile, that same class group chat in Queens was flooded with non-native English speakers struggling to help their children get online. The ongoing thread was a mix of moms offering each other support and simply a sounding board that let fellow parents know they weren’t alone.  Despite the frustration, the group chat was evidence that the village still exists. 

How did the snow day go in your house? 

Nicole Perrino is the founder of, a hyperlocal website for Bronx families where she use her influence to celebrate the beauty that the Bronx has to offer. In addition to her role at Bronxmama,...

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1 Comment

  1. I don’t understand all of this snow day BS!! I have lived in NYC my entire life attending NYC public schools. We rarely had snow days with MUCH more snow.

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