Snow days are turning into the only chance of a mental health day for students


Sophomore Ben Taylor has always enjoyed the snow. 

Just one year ago, during the polar vortex, Ben found an extensive amount of joy hidden beneath the piles of snow in his backyard. The weeks of freedom from school gave Ben the opportunity to build ski ramps and snow forts. He spent as many moments outside as he could.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Ben’s anticipation for snow days this year is colossal. 

“I think that it’s not only the day off but also the excitement when you check your phone first thing in the morning and see you have a snow day,” Ben said. “Honestly, it’s better than Christmas.”

However, this highly anticipated moment in students’ lives may also be the cause of the avalanche known as mental instability. 

The lack of days off of school has caused students to lose sleep, motivation, and even happiness. 

“I would say I have noticed a decrease [in my motivation],” Ben said. “It’s not like there is really any hope for a snow day either, we haven’t had very many bad conditions.”

All of the motivation that students are losing is slowly diverting its attention to the hope of a snow day rather than focusing at school. 

Some students are reaching the extreme of hoping that each morning brings that relieving text confirming a day off.

“I remember just last-week Friday, I ran downstairs in my underwear and caught my mom before she left for her workout, and I was like ‘Mom, do we have a snow day?’ and she just said ‘Nope, you’re going to school,’” Ben said. “Then I made the sad journey back upstairs to put clothes on.”

It is that sad journey that many students have in common. 

One particular group of students, however, seem to take quite a bit longer on that harrowing journey—seniors. 

“Even though senior year is pretty laid-back and I don’t have any super hard classes this year, I would not be mad if we went over our snow day limit because seniors don’t have to come back,” senior Haisley Turnquist said. 

For the senior class, the number of snow days has no effect on the end-of-the-year schedules. Their early graduation paves the ideal path for an escape from extra school. 

However, other classes do not experience this similar time of relief. 

“I think it would be nice to have a week to bring more awareness to mental health because I think a lot of people struggle with it,” Haisley said. “I think it would be good for people to get a break from stress, especially with the juniors because I remember junior year was really stressful.”

The constant stress of staying caught up does not help the situation either. 

For a myriad of students, snow days are a second chance. They are a chance for students to catch up on work that they may be behind in or even allow students to seize the chance to further their understanding of concepts taught in school. 

“Not only have we not gotten a winter break, but the school work has just piled up and gotten more and more stressful,” Ben said. 

However, snow days also give students a chance to unwind. 

For Ben, adopting the route of relaxing on snow days always seems like his top priority.

He embraces this opportunity to catch up on the hours of sleep he has lost over the course of the year. 

“I sleep,” Ben said. “Then I would usually sleep a lot more, but going outside and playing in the snow is always a wonderful option.”

Ben’s dedication to school leaves him very scant time to step away from his academics and into creating a childhood while he still has the chance. 

Those moments of relaxation keep Ben’s stress levels at a manageable level.

You have to find some fun stuff to do in the wintertime. Even if it’s something simple, just find little things to go out and do that are non-school related; I think that is really important.

— Rebecca Lipke

However, copious students allow their stress levels to increase from successfully staying caught up in school, so having even one day to relax can immensely assist this struggle.

According to math teacher Rebecca Lipke, snow days held by the school district allow students to have those “much-needed mental health days that really do help us in the winter.”

When the current winter is compared to last year’s, it only seems more tedious. 

“I think the fact that we had exams before the December break, which was wonderful, took away from the fact that usually at the end of January, we have some alternative scheduling,” Lipke said. 

The alternative scheduling that the old calendar provided students with a new variety in their carbon copy routines. 

Even the slight break of gaining a couple of half-days can give students the motivation that is so desperately needed to continue moving forward. 

“We are now looking at a chunk of time that is almost comparable to the beginning of the school year to Thanksgiving, but in the winter months, it’s really difficult for kids to look at that,” Lipke said. “It’s daunting to not get any breaks.”

The solution to overcoming the issues of mental health cannot be achieved easily, but the impact it has on students can be terminated little by little. 

“I think taking a mental health week would be a good idea,” Haisley said. “I know Northern had brought dogs in, just some little puppies, and took a mental health day.”

This solution, though it is simple, can make a monumental impact on students’ mental health. 

The lack of a winter break also forces students to continue pushing themselves with a sense of non-existent energy. 

“It’s too bad that we don’t have a [mid-]winter break anymore, like a four-day weekend or something, just to kind of give everybody that little extra recharge to power through,” Lipke said.

Finding the energy and motivation necessary to make it through the school day can be adverse at times, but it is essential. 

“You have to find some fun stuff to do in the wintertime,” Lipke said. “Even if it’s something simple, just find little things to go out and do that are non-school related; I think that is really important.”