WINDSOR TERRACE — New York City was covered in at least 10 inches of snow, as of mid-morning on Dec. 17, during its first snowfall of the season. While snow plows scraped the asphalt outside, Diocese of Brooklyn’s students were inside, learning remotely at home.
The snow day happened to occur during a tricky time on the academic calendar. Parish schools and Catholic academies in the diocese are scheduled to begin their winter recess on Friday, Dec. 18.
Physically closing school buildings with no remote instruction on Thursday, Dec. 17, and then returning to school for in-person instruction on Friday, didn’t seem like a viable option, noted Joan McMaster, Associate Superintendent for Principal and Teacher Personnel.
The decision to forgo the traditional snow day protocol and cancel school altogether, according to the diocese, was made with the students’ best interests in mind.
“We do know that with the shutdown in March, there was a loss of instructional time for all students — not just within the diocese. And we knew that we would anticipate some learning gaps because children are not in the normal learning environment that they have been in,” McMaster said the morning of Dec. 16.
“Everyone’s used to the schedule, and we want to limit the disruption to the children’s education,” she continued. “We just want to continue with that momentum and keep the children learning because, as of Friday, they’re then going to be out for two weeks.”
The diocese hasn’t determined whether traditional snow days will be eliminated, though it may be possible.
What Learning Looked Like Across the City
Ashley Lantz, kindergarten teacher at St. Kevin Catholic Academy in Flushing, Queens, made sure her lessons related to the weather outside.
“I’m trying to center all of my activities around the snow,” she told Currents News. “We’re still learning about the snow and how much fun it can be, but they’re learning at the same exact time.”
New York City public school buildings were also physically closed on Dec. 17 due to the inclement weather.
“All students will learn remotely, and are expected to log on and engage with their work from home as they do on other remote days,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza tweeted during the early afternoon of Dec. 16.
The Archdiocese of New York announced all its Catholic elementary schools would be closed and would not hold online classes on Dec. 17.
“In a world where our school communities are burdened by all things COVID, tomorrow provides us all an opportunity to spend family time together,” Michael J. Deegan, superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of New York, said in a letter to families. “Our teachers, staff, and students’ health and safety are always the first thought that crosses our minds.”
The Archdiocese has three snow days remaining in the 2020-2021 academic year.