By Jethro Swain
Who doesn’t enjoy snow days? At schools, at least, the answer is no one.
I can’t say that I’ve talked to single student or teacher who hasn’t thoroughly enjoyed having nine days off of school in the past month. Those nine days include missing three finals blocks before winter break, and a winter break part two with a three day weekend followed by one day of school and then a seven day weekend, with a late start on the eighth day for good measure.
However, even though everyone was trapped inside their houses, unless they had a Subaru or Ford Truck, OES and other independent schools such as Jesuit deemed that school still must carry on, but at home.
Corbet called it “school in pajamas,” which I’m sure did not enthuse anyone.
What’s different about OES however is that we’re not mandated by anyone besides ourselves to make up snow days. Public schools are required to have a certain number of school days per year by the state, so if they miss nine they have to make almost all of them up. We could technically have twenty school days a year if we wanted to.
We also have another advantage over public school which is that here, everyone has a laptop, literally everyone. So communication via email is plausible. It’s not foolproof, but during these snow days it didn’t stop many teachers from dishing out homework assignments and video lessons left and right.
“It caught me off guard whenever I received emails and it felt like teachers were taking advantage of me, especially because they knew I had so much free time,” said Colby B.
“I sometimes felt overwhelmed having to do so much work at my own house, it was more distracting and I had more worksheets and practice problems to do,” said Luca P.
A lot of students feel like having to do schoolwork on top of homework at home is more difficult because it’s harder to focus. Not only that but trying to learn and print and juggle multiple classes over email at the same time can be confusing. Mix that in with the allure of television and the task to keep up can seem like too much to overcome.
“I watched way too much reality TV, it’s not even funny,” said math teacher Lauren Shareshian on her snow days. “Teachers have just as much excitement as kids when snow days happen,” she told me, “but we have our own work to do to make sure they can keep up. However much work they have is however much we have.”
The amount of work that was given out definitely varied greatly from class to class, and the amount that was completed definitely varied from student to student.
“It’s a mix of how well people use technology,” said Lauren on how much work teachers put into creating e-lessons. “Liz insisted on editing her stats videos which took a long time, whereas my videos were unedited and a little more rough.”
“It seemed like everyone was keeping up really well, but some people had gaps that they didn’t realize they had until they got back. It varies person to person based on the material and how well they can keep up on their own,” said Lauren. “Everyone was on top of checking my emails and doing the work, but I’ve heard from other teachers that they didn’t have a lot of kids who did work.”
So school in pajamas worked for some and didn’t work very well for others. It’s certainly not as consistent at getting students to learn information and complete assignments as a regular school day. It makes sense to assign more schoolwork over missed days, except for the fact that we’re adding more days later on in the school year. So why have both?
“I thought that it was more difficult trying to stay in contact with teachers and doing homework when we’re at home trying to enjoy the snow, yet have so many teachers emailing us,” said Alex O. “I think it’s a little unfair that we have school days added on when we’re already doing school at home.”
In total we’ve missed nine days of school because of the snow. Students got so used to missing school that they were speculating and hoping for flooding to cancel the day after the two hour late start day. Sadly, no one’s dreams came to fruition.
To make up for the nine days, five more days are going to be added on in the Upper School.
February 20th (Presidents Day), April 3rd, April 14th and April 17th (end of the third quarter), and June 9th which would be the first day of finals, but finals will now be pushed back one day and the last day of the school year which includes locker cleanout and advisory lunch will be compacted into a half day. The middle and lower school are most likely going to have a full week added onto the end of the year. Because of commencement, which is a fixed date, the Upper School can’t do that.
So April will be more jampacked than usual, and on top of it we had to do school at home during the snow days. So, again, why both? I think the answer lies in the money.
“The parents are paying a lot of money and they want their kids to get their money’s worth since they’re paying a certain amount of money per day technically,” said Lauren.
If I counted the days on my google calendar correctly, OES has 157 days of school this year including Octoberim, beginning of the year trips, Mt. Hood Climb Service Day, and Finals. That means that if you take the day student tuition cost from this year of $30,700, then the average price of a school day is $195.54.
That means that for every school day you fake sick on, you’re technically wasting $200, or $400 if you’re a dorm student, and for every class period you miss for a doctor’s appointment, you’re wasting about $25 or $50.
So OES is making us make up as much school as possible because technically we’re the ones getting snubbed if there’s no school being made up, or our parents are I should say. If OES does nothing on a school day they’re pocketing $200 per student per day, which is roughly $63,000, not that anyone thinks of it like that, but it is the truth. We should be the ones trying to get OES to keep school open and they should be the ones who are quick to cancel it, because if we don’t have school then we’re not getting our money’s worth.
But no student is going to have that thought running through their head, I know for sure I’m not. I’m about to be a second semester senior so I’m debating taking an unwarranted sabbatical, snow or no snow.
The first semester is almost over now though and whatever work you may or may not have done at home in the snow is what you live with for the next two weeks. As for more snow days, it doesn’t look like snow is coming soon, but with global warming, you never know.