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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Sledding or Stressing: WIS Community Reflects on This Year’s Snow Days

On Jan. 16, inches of snow covered the Washington D.C. region. This occurrence led to the decision to close the WIS campuses for a couple of days and go forth with virtual learning. (Courtesy of Selena Said)

During the week of Jan. 15, 2024, the WIS community experienced its first snow day in two years. Due to heavy snowfall, both campuses closed from Monday through Wednesday, and again on Friday of that same week. Nonetheless, WIS continued its classes over Zoom without significant interruption from this unexpected situation. 

To make the decisions regarding closing the WIS campuses and pursuing virtual learning during the snow days, Head of School Suzanna Jemsby assessed the information on the news to release the decision the day prior.  

“It’s really hard to make these decisions,” Jemsby said. “I have long since known that making a decision will annoy somebody.”

Jemsby explained that there are three strong opinions regarding snow days: asking why the school is closed, saying that no teaching should be done on snow days and being keen on virtual learning. 

According to Jemsby, an important factor in making the decisions for each day was the nearby public school district’s decision. Closing schools in that district impacted teachers with kids attending those schools, making it a crucial component of WIS’s decision to remain open or not. 

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“If I don’t have enough teachers who can physically come to campus, then the easiest thing to do is choose to go to virtual learning,” Jemsby said. 

Additionally, the decisions are made collectively by several members of the WIS administration, who all share their insights and thoughts on what measures should be taken. 

This year, Jemsby found herself in a challenging situation, feeling stressed about whether she had made the correct decision or not.

“I lose sleep,” Jemsby said. “I’m literally up in the middle of the night and pressing refresh [on the weather reports].”

According to Jemsby, most backlash came from primary school parents. Throughout the snow days, many of these parents had difficulty managing their kids’ learning and their own jobs.

“Some [parents] wanted me to open the campus and have their children [dropped] off,” she said. “There’s other people who say: ‘Just give them a snow day, they deserve it.’”

Sophomore Tamila Akkache enforces the sentiment of the primary school parents. “I felt robbed of my time on the snow days compared to other friends and family around me who were enjoying their time,” she said. 

Akkache also comments on how the isolation and the Zoom sessions reminded her of her days during the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties she faced during that time. 

Freshman Yasemin Buffington agrees with Akkache, as she felt annoyed by having to attend classes over Zoom instead of getting to enjoy the snow days.

“I understand why we couldn’t go to school, but… we didn’t get to have a snow day and everyone else [from other schools] got a snow day,” she said. “I would have really enjoyed to have that one day off.”

Regardless, Akkache appreciates the decision to close the campuses. “I think they were much needed to calm the spirit during that time and give us all a break,” she said.

Upper school chemistry teacher Cathy Noon believes the correct decision was made to ensure everyone’s safety. However, it did have some learning and teaching consequences. 

“With 10th grade, I was very conscious of the fact that [they] had finals [that] week,” Noon said. “So, I cut out some of the things [from the exam] I would have done [the week of Jan. 15].”

Moreover, the snow impacted the construction occurring on the Tregaron campus. The melting snow led to wetness across the construction area. In such conditions, workers are forced to stop operating.

Science building construction worker Vonzay Jenkins says that if the dirt is too wet, the dumps won’t take it. On top of that, Jenkins mentioned that it is more dangerous to work in snowy or icy conditions.

“Because the grounds are wet and the ground is slippery, we can’t have the trucks sliding on the ground,” he said.

Jenkins added that each dump truck carries a very heavy load. Therefore, driving and transporting dirt is risky in unstable conditions. 

Ultimately, Jemsby highlighted the importance of the WIS community’s safety. “It was hazardous,” she said. “We’ve got student drivers, we’ve got people walking to school, and it was dangerous on those sidewalks.”

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About the Contributor
Selena Said
Selena Said, WIS News Editor
Hi, I’m Selena! I am currently a sophomore and this year, I am a WIS News Editor. This is now my second year being a part of Dateline and I was previously an Arts Editor. I like to cover news and fun stories that have a connection to the WIS community. Outside of Dateline, I like playing tennis and reading. 

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