By: Ingrid Anderson, corps member
It started snowing last Tuesday night, and snow continued to fall all day on Wednesday. The total accumulation was predicted to be around three inches for Denver and up to 10 inches in the surrounding areas. As a corps member, I was grateful for my waterproof boots and all-weather jacket as I waited for my bus that was running late that morning and greeted students on my way into school. It was painful to watch students arrive at school in just hooded sweatshirts as the wet snow continued falling.
What was even more painful was checking the attendance for my first period class. Two-thirds of my students were absent, which is a record low. As my co-corps member and I were making attendance calls to the homes of each absent student, there was a recurring theme: “my child won’t be in today because of the weather,” or “my child can’t walk to school in this weather,” or “my child can’t take the bus in this weather.” It was a disheartening realization to understand that for the students at North High School, many of whom must commute an hour or more to school, inclement weather can limit access to their education.
According to the Denver Post, as of April 2011 53% of families in Denver Public Schools were opting out of their neighborhood schools. The implications of opting out include longer commutes for students, limited time for involvement in extracurricular activities, and limited parent-teacher interaction. Any one of these factors can diminish a student’s ability to succeed in school.
As of Wednesday, November 2, there are 21 instructional days left in the semester. As I watch the tardy students straggle into school, freezing cold and damp, I am weighing the pros and cons of calling a snow day. The students who are in the classroom are distracted as they watch the snow fall down outside, and I can only imagine what the students at home are doing. I know that they are not engaged in their education, and in fact they are falling one more day behind.
I do know that after school today we will open the library doors for our after-school tutoring program called Open Minds.
We will encourage students to complete their homework before trekking home through the snow and slush.