'There's also something magical about a snow day': New Britain schools giving students day off from remote learning with storm coming

Published on Wednesday, 16 December 2020 16:52


NEW BRITAIN – The traditional snow day is getting one more chance tomorrow.

With remote learning becoming the new normal, many school districts have done away with the idea of canceling school when the snow drifts pile up. The Consolidated School District of New Britain was no exception.

In early November, the district posted on its website New Britain would follow the Connecticut State Department of Education’s vote to allow snow days to be converted to remote learning days, with the only exception for widespread power outages throughout the city.

However, Superintendent Nancy Sarra was inspired by the local response to a letter by a West Virginia educator wanting to retain the snow day to give New Britain students an unscheduled break from school.

The letter from Bondy Shay Gibson, superintendent of Jefferson County Schools in West Virginia, has been making the rounds on social media. Sarra posted her thanks on Facebook to “the many staff members and families” who forwarded it to her, saying “what started as a dusting of emails and texts turned into a blizzard” of people reacting to it.

Sarra wrote, “the message was timely as we prepare for the impending storm tonight and tomorrow. Reading your feedback allowed us to take a step back and remember all of the time-honored traditions that we have experienced growing up in the Northeast. Because of this, we have also decided to keep honoring this tradition. Therefore, (Dec. 17) will be a snow day for all CSDNB students. There will be no need to log in for any assignments and there will be no need to be in front of the computer at different times during the day.”

In an interview with The New Britain Herald, Sarra said she is going to see how the winter goes before making decisions on any future snow days. Right now the last day of school has been pushed back one day to Wednesday, June 16.

“We’re going to take it as it comes,” she said. “We learned a lot about remote learning and platforms that help our kids engage, but there’s also something magical about a snow day and a tradition that we want our kids to experience as well – the time to imagine, create, have a day to just think on their own what they’d like to do. I think this certainly is the perfect time though for our kids and our families to disconnect – and my staff too, who have worked incredibly hard since the beginning of the year.”

As for how covid-19 and technology will affect school in the future, Sarra said “we are going to be starting a planning group in January for post-covid – how we will embrace the technology to help our students to augment their education. We’re going to look at the positives that came out of this. Nothing can beat an in-person relationship-building experience with a student and their teacher, but there are positives to this technology and the remote learning.”

But for now, as Sarra wrote on Facebook, “we encourage you to relax and enjoy the day with your family. Go sledding, build a snowman, watch a movie, and take it all in. If you can, help out a neighbor by shoveling snow. As children, we all remember the joy and excitement we experienced when we learned that there would be a snow day. And in a year where some of that joy and excitement has disappeared, it is our hope that we can bring it back, even if just for one day.

“We’ve all lost out on so much already in 2020 – we hope that keeping the snow day tradition for one last time as we near the end of the year provides a sense of normalcy and a bit of joy. We’ll get back to learning on Friday. But for one day, we’re pressing the pause button. Enjoy the day!”

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Wednesday, 16 December 2020 16:52. Updated: Wednesday, 16 December 2020 16:55.