For the past few weeks, school children in Boston and its surrounding suburbs have enjoyed every kid’s dream — snow day after snow day after snow day — and now, February vacation.
But what’s heaven for children is for some parents, hell. Or at least purgatory.
“We’ve had two snow days a week for the past three weeks, and now they have vacation,” said Winchester mother and former Boston University Academy teacher Sasha Lyons. “It’s been a big distraction for them. It’s really hard to get them back on schedule when everything is constantly up in the air.”
Her 9-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, have been struggling with ways to amuse themselves.
“One day my son spent time playing video games in the morning, then had a sobbing fit because he felt like he was wasting his snow day. He didn’t know what to do,” says Lyons.
Should additional snow days be required, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent JohnMcDonough have said that Bunker Hill Day, June 17 would be added to the school year.
Boston Public Schools will hold school on Evacuation Day, March 17, making its last day of school Tuesday, June 30. Teacher union agreements prevent teachers from working past that date.
Additional dates beyond this one are still being considered, according to the Boston Public School System.
Residents can vote on how to handle the matter at bostonpublicschools.org.
As schools across the Commonwealth struggle to figure out how to cap the school year at June 30, Lyons is holding out hope that her kids have seen the last snow day of the season. Her kids are over it too.
“My daughter was saying, ‘I really wish we didn’t have another snow day,’” says Lyons, adding that she agrees with the school systems’ need to close.
“I have no issue with the snow days they’ve taken so far because it really hasn’t been safe for people to travel to school,” she said.
But nine-year-old Gabriel Niswonger, also of Winchester, can’t get enough free time to enjoy the winter weather. He keeps occupied with his two siblings by sledding, shoveling, and helping his mother Hannah in her home art studio.
“I like the snow,” said Gabriel, who is in 6th grade. “We are mostly sledding, playing snow football with our friends, and doing other snow things. I’m not afraid of the cold,” he said, adding “I think it’s very beautiful when it’s snowing.”
Hannah, a sculptor, hasn’t minded the extra time with her kids.
“We’re really happy, but my husband usually bikes or takes the train to work. So right now he is not a happy camper,” said Hannah. “The funniest snow moment so far was when I looked out my window one morning after one of the blizzards, and said, ‘Oh look, more snow,’ and he just looked at me and said, ‘No.’ He’s had it.”
Wakefield mother of four Gerilyn Bialakiewicz has figured out the key to productive snow-day time - limited screen time.
“Once we limited video games and iPads to two hours a day, we discovered lots of ways to enjoy family time,” said Bialakiewicz, who has four children ranging from 16-months to 15-years-old.
Her kids have passed the time by reading, helping with snow removal, writing in their journals and playing games with each other.
Bialakiewicz isn’t worried about any more snow days, because in her opinion, education is about quality, not quantity.
“I really think that 180 days of school is a way to keep parents happy,” she said. “I don’t think any more work gets done. It’s about the quality of instruction – not the quantity. I’m not worried at all. The kids are in school so much, I think it’s great for them to have time at home because they are forced into down time and have to rediscover what it is to entertain themselves.”