Superintendent announces snow day despite remote learning with heartfelt letter

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With Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, bringing the most snow Maryland has seen in a few years, kids, and even a few adults, took advantage of the opportunity to have a little fun. (Photo: WJZ)

(CBS News) — In a year where everything has changed, a West Virginia superintendent made sure one highly anticipated wintry activity still happened — the first snow day. The educator’s heartfelt letter announcing the district’s schools, which are currently only open for remote learning, would be having a good old fashioned snow day on Wednesday has gone viral.

“For generations, families have greeted the first snow day of the year with joy,” superintendent of Jefferson County Schools, Bondy Shay Gibson, Ed.D, wrote in a letter posted on the school district’s Facebook page on Tuesday. “It is a time of renewed wonder at all the beautiful things that each season holds. A reminder of how fleeting a childhood can be. An opportunity to make some memories with your family that you hold on to for life.”

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Gibson said the entire district would be closed Wednesday for all students and staff, even virtually. The snow day call was made in anticipation of a monster winter storm now bringing deadly conditions to the Northeast.

“It has been a year of seemingly endless loss and the stress of trying to make up for that loss,” Gibson wrote. “For just a moment, we can all let go of the worry of making up for the many things we missed by making sure this is one thing our kids won’t lose this year.”

She urged families to take part in traditional snow day activities, like sledding, sipping hot chocolate and sitting in front of crackling fires.

“Take pictures of your kids in snow hats they will outgrow by next year and read books that you have wanted to lose yourself in, but haven’t had the time,” Gibson advised. “We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up on Thursday, but for tomorrow…go build a snowman.”

The sweet announcement has over 57,000 shares and 2,200 comments on Facebook as of Wednesday night, with many writing messages in support of the decision

“Ok, this made me cry a little,” wrote Facebook user Stephanie Mclaughlin. Christen Cotton, another user, said, “Such a heartfelt message. Made me smile.”

The district’s Facebook page asked families to share their photos from the snow day and later thanked them for “the overwhelming response.”

“Your stories and pictures from the time you spent with family and friends reminded everyone at Jefferson County Schools why we do what we do,” one post read. “We hope the joy and grace shared today will remain with all of us into the holiday season and beyond.”

The district also noted that remote learning will resume Thursday.

The snow day comes as the fate of the beloved winter school reprieve seems to be up in the air for much of the nation — as many students continue remote learning.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s public schools would be shuttered for in-person learning Thursday due to the storm. But, the students would still be expected to attend classes remotely, he tweeted.

On Tuesday, before announcing the closure of in-person learning, the mayor discussed how snow days may now be different moving forward.

“We’re about to potentially experience something we’ve never experienced before in the history of New York City, which is if we did have a snow day, meaning kids couldn’t physically go to school, we still have remote learning in place,” he said, according to a transcript on the city’s website. “Someone said to me the other day they felt kind of forlorn about the fact that it ends the snow day as we knew it as kids, when we look forward to a day off. Yes, it’s true that that’s now going to be a thing of the past, that even when kids are home because of snow, they’ll still be learning.”