This story is by Melissa Fiorentino, Jordyn Ives, Shreya Jyotishi, Annika Vesuna and Matt Kadosh.

WESTFIELD, NJ — In typical times, a major snowstorm could mean a day off for students, but the advent of remote learning during the pandemic meant students in Westfield Public Schools only got half a day off Thursday.

The Westfield School District switched to remote learning for the morning and canceled classes for the afternoon session. While remote learning makes it easier to for the school district to handle such a storm, the students still pine for their time off.

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“It’s that weird time right now between Thanksgiving and winter break, and everyone lacks motivation and feels so exhausted,” said Melissa DiDario, a junior at Westfield High School. “Even if it’s just one day, it’d be good to rejuvenate.”

A survey of 107 students conducted on Instagram found that 96 of them thought the district should have a snow day. Among them are Emma Channell, a junior.

“During usual school, we would have one, and I want time to relax,” Channell said.

Schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan, however, said that Westfield has just three snow days reserved for the year and that if the district uses more than its three, it would have to take away part of spring break or end the academic year later in June.

“One ‘snow day’ has already been used this year,” Dolan said. “A tree fell during a storm in Morris County on October 29; it hit a power line and started a fire that affected the district’s internet cable. That is why our schools were closed on October 30; there was no way for teachers to work with students who are remote without internet.

“It is still December, and I did not think it was prudent to use a second snow day at this point unless absolutely necessary.”

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Spencer Sutcliffe, an eighth grader at Edison Intermediate School, said he misses having the unexpected day off that a snow day can bring, even though he appreciates remote learning.

“I feel disappointed about not having a snow day, but it’s cool to see how far we have come so now we can have school virtually when we can’t be in-person,” Sutcliffe said. “I think I’m going to miss just enjoying the snow with my friends and family.”

With half a day off due to snow, Sutcliffe had some extra time Thursday. Still, with social distancing necessary, he didn’t anticipate it would be all fun and games.

“I’m of course going to spend half of my snow day doing schoolwork/homework and then just relaxing for the rest of the day to have the snow day feel,” he said. “It will obviously be spent different since I don’t get to see friends and go have fun with them.”

When it came to physical education classes, teachers took full advantage of the snow, giving students points for shoveling snow, building snow persons, and having socially distant snowball fights among other activities.

“If you do these activities with a non-household member, please remember to be socially distanced and of course, wear a mask,” students were reminded in an online survey they were asked to fill out recording their snow day workouts.

Still, Westfield High School sophomore Anushka Desai misses the magic of a full snow day can bring.

“There's just a magical feeling when you get to wake up and there's a call that there isn't school,” Desai said. “So, then you go run and get your sled and have snowball fights. I don't like it at all.”

Sophie Latessa, also a sophomore, said she would have enjoyed sleeping in if it were a full snow day. Still, she had “regular snow day stuff” planned for the afternoon off.

“I feel like it would have been nice to have a snow day even though we can do school remotely now, especially since it is almost holiday break,” Latessa said.

Melissa Fiorentino, Jordyn Ives, Shreya Jyotishi and Annika Vesuna are students at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield. Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net

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