Bring back snow days!


Bring back snow days!
A lovely image of fluffy snow atop tree branches
Photo: The Indignity Weather-Cam™

Half-Canceled School Is Fully a Waste of Time

EVERYONE KNEW THE snow was coming; the question was what to do about it. This was more or less the reverse of how things worked in my childhood. Back then, the forecasting was much dicier. You would go to bed hoping and wondering, and would wake up to find either a real snowfall underway, a disappointing dusting of white with the grass poking up through it, or the same bare frozen ground as yesterday. If the results were in the first two categories, you'd turn on the radio to listen to the school announcements, county by county, in alphabetical order: one hour late...two hours late...closed. And when you'd won—Harford County schools, closed, Howard Cou—you'd won. The day was yours.

Yesterday afternoon, under cloudy skies, the New York City Department of Education sent out an email with the subject line "ALERT: NYC Public Schools to Close Due to Inclement Weather (Remote Learning)." What did "Close" mean, juxtaposed with "(Remote Learning)"? The doubletalk seemed to resolve in the email itself:

Due to expected severe weather conditions, New York City Public Schools will pivot to remote learning on Tuesday, February 13.

While buildings are closed, school will be in session remotely for all students. Students in kindergarten and above will be expected to log on and participate in their classes from home.

This was the legacy of the pandemic: not improved ventilation systems, not CO2 monitors, not dynamic tracking and suppression of respiratory disease outbreaks, but a "pivot to remote learning" instead of a good, clean snow day. The kids could sleep in for an extra half hour, with the time they saved by skipping their commute. Then it was time to log in.

Except, naturally enough, the login didn't work. Sitting at his computer at 8 a.m. sharp (still in his pajamas, the half-hour of slack in the morning having naturally stretched to more than 30 minutes) the seventh-grader got this message:

The service that you are trying to reach is temporarily unavailable. Our operations team is working to remediate this issue.

Try accessing the original page again in a few minutes.

Reference identifier: "Reference ID Missing"

More emails followed: "Due to DOE systems outages with Outlook and Single Sign-On, students and teachers are having trouble logging into zoom"..."DOE is experiencing a systems-wide outage that is affecting Zoom; TeachHub; and more. We are currently 'pausing' to minimize the confusion and stress"...

The high schooler was able to log into his Zoom sessions, but email from his school reported that the teachers were struggling to get into TeachHub. What was TeachHub? I had no idea.

For the seventh grader, first and second period were canceled. At 9:45, following instructions, he tried to log in again. The login failed again. Then the login worked but the Zoom wouldn't launch.

Here was the other legacy of the pandemic, but also the tenor of everyday life circa 2024: frantically going through the motions, when the motions didn't even work, and when they would have been pointless if they did. It's not as if teachers had been given the time to come up with effective remote or asynchronous lesson plans between the decision to close the school buildings and the attempted opening of the online school day. The only thing that was functioning was the attendance form, to make sure that everyone had virtually showed up.

Showed up for what? No one was learning anything, at least not anything curricular. The snow was piling up out the windows, but everyone had to keep checking their screens, in case the system started working. Forty years ago, a snow day meant you could relax and do nothing. Now, kids still do nothing, but they're harassed into keeping busy as they do it.


The Indignity Morning Podcast is taking a SNOW DAY and should return tomorrow.

New York City, February 12, 2024

★★★ The forecast said changes were coming, and the day followed the script. A blue morning sky, heavily flocked with fast-moving little white clouds, gave way to a midday sky of gray mottled with vanishingly faint blue patches, and that yielded in turn to an all-gray midafternoon. A heavy quiet, which surely felt like the old anticipation of snow, had settled on the day. Out on the balcony it was bearably chilly, or alarmingly chilly at the realization that the door had been pulled to and locked. The relative mildness meant that the window was still open a bit, enough to be raised from outside and leaned through to get at the inner handle of the door. The night sky was not yet luminous with low clouds, but it was reasonable to believe they were on their way. A drift of leaves lay at the bottom of the empty swimming pool, under stark lights.


WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of sandwiches from 800 Proved Pecan Recipes: Their Place in the Menu, by 5,083 Housewives in America and abroad, who in response to a request for their choicest proved pecan recipes, submitted over twenty-one thousand, covering every phase of every meal, for all seasons of the year, published by the Keystone Pecan Research Laboratory, Manheim, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1925, now in the Public Domain and available at for the delectation of all.

Applebutter Sandwiches
1 C. apple butter
1/2 C. chopped pecans

Mix apple butter and pecans and spread on thin slices of bread cut in fancy shapes.
—Leola Howard.

Cheese and Celery Sandwiches
1/4 lb. cream cheese
3 pimentos
3 stalks celery
1/3 C. grated pecans
1/2 t. salt

Place cheese, pimentos, and celery in a bowl and chop fine. Add pecans, salt, and enough mayonnaise to moisten. Spread on buttered rye or white bread. A lettuce leaf may be used between the slices.
—Mrs. Maude Ewalt.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, be sure to send a picture to


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