The Future of Snow Days at Canisius
By Jon Dusza, Assistant News Editor
During the days before Thanksgiving Break, Canisius College was one of the only schools in the area, both at the collegiate level and below, to have its campus shut down because of snow but still hold classes online.
Typically, campus being closed to students means an extra day off for students. This last storm, however, showed that that may not be the case for students in the future. While campus was closed, students were still expected to show up to their classes on Zoom.
Having Zoom installed on one’s computer has become common practice only over the last two years, with Zoom becoming prominent over the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, Canisius College has not really seen a snowstorm severe enough to shut down school for multiple days in the Zoom-schooling era. If the events prior to this past break are any indication, it would seem quite possible that the days of the snow day are over and the days of the “Zoom day” have begun.
“I just think that Zoom is so unengaging, we might as well just have not had school,” said senior Sara Umbrell. “I can just sit there with my camera off, and nobody would notice.”
Not all opinions are negative among the students, however. “I really like that the school pressed professors to have classes,” said another student, citing stress about upcoming final exams and the need to prepare for them.
Notably, other schools in the area still had a typical snow day. At the college level, Medaille University and the University at Buffalo (UB) both had classes fully canceled, as well as other public school districts in the area, such as Buffalo Public Schools.
UB, whose campus is down the street from Canisius, made a specific point to not hold online classes on days when their campus is closed due to weather. A press release from UB from December of last year says that “if classes are canceled, course content may be provided remotely… but must be delivered asynchronously, such as a pre-recorded video.” That procedure is evidently not the one held by Canisius. UB defended their decision as an effort to provide its students with an “equitable work environment,” citing potential power outages and differences in learning online learning environments between students.
There are, of course, differences between Canisius and UB and other schools in the area. Comparing UB and Canisius in particular, UB has a much larger student population than Canisius, so it would be much easier and more feasible for Canisius to have its comparatively small classes over Zoom. Regardless, the comparison between Canisius and the schools around it is inevitable, especially with the popularity that snow days often have among students.
Canisius’s official policy regarding snow days, per the Canisius website, is to have professors decide whether or not it is best to hold classes on Zoom, so it does not require that classes remain held using an online format. Still, this policy is different from the policies of other schools around Western New York.
It is still not perfectly clear what the future of snow days at Canisius will look like. If the last storm was any indication, however, it looks as though the days of winter storms allowing students to sleep in or go sledding on a random weekday may be over.