Students around the Parish might be elated to have had some time off school due to weather, but it is a different story for parents and teachers.
Here in the South, where winters are historically mild and relatively pleasant, temperatures in the teens and low 20s, with ice and snow, come as a shock.
In the Central and Southern Louisiana areas, December’s average low is 40º with average high at 62º. January’s average low is 38º and 59º high.
Many out-of-towners from colder regions of the country revel in the briskness, breaking out beloved winter gear.
Up North, families generally have a stockpile of cold weather clothing. A snow day means something entirely different than it does in the South. Bundling up and going out to play in the snow is standard northern behavior when schools close.
Here in Louisiana where residents are accustomed to warmer weather, and maybe with a short supply of heavy jackets and mittens, a snow day can mean remaining inside to watch movies, play video games, sleep, and drive adults crazy.
Therein lies the challenge for stay-at-home parents on snow days.
One Fort Polk mom, Christie Sanchez, who has four children, ranging from ages 4 through 16, experiences a wide array of southern snow day behaviors. Her three young boys, plus another six-year-old boy she sometimes cares for, seem to have cabin fever, “going stir crazy,” she said. “They are used to playing outdoors after school to get out any excess energy.”
On the flip side, she tries to keep her teenager from sleeping all day so as to maintain a regular schedule for when school opens up again.
Having them home from Saturday through Wednesday is like a second mini winter break.
Working parents, on the other hand, have the issue of finding all-day childcare or taking the day off. Those without family or friends to watch their kids end up paying for the extra hours at a daycare or with a sitter.
Teachers, who are often also parents, have the challenge of getting their students back to routines and up-to-date on content knowledge.
For some subjects and grade levels there is also an issue with pacing – a few days out of school means taking extra time to review material and then trying to play catch up in order to get through curriculum on time.
Nikke Tobias, third grade teacher at Rosepine Elementary School, enjoyed the unexpected break but said it does back things up a bit. “We can’t just push back what (the students) missed,” Tobias said. “We have to fit it in and it can be stressful.”