I am currently writing this while snuggled up on my couch with my heating pad, trying to warm up. My 7-year-old son is running around the house playing with our 1-year-old golden retriever. Loud laughter mixed with playful barking bounces off the walls while the space outside our home falls into a heavy silence as the snow continues to fall.
We live in Pennsylvania and are currently expecting 18 to 24 inches of snow over the next 24 hours. It started four hours ago and several inches have already accumulated. Grocery stores have closed early and have tentative, but late, opening hours set for the morning. Doctor's offices have already announced they will be closed tomorrow. All non-essential businesses have closed and will remain closed. My son, who is in first grade, however, has been instructed to carry on with virtual learning tomorrow. I made the decision to announce it as a snow day for our family.
Pennsylvania currently has 519,369 cases of COVID-19 statewide. We have had a masked mandate since early April that is enforced. Businesses are either still closed or are operating at a limited capacity. The county I live in was in a red lock down until the last day of June.
My son is enrolled in virtual learning for the year. He did not get to play sports this summer or fall. He did not have a birthday party. He did not get to go to the hospital to greet his new baby cousin who was born in October. We have taken the precautions laid out seriously and are doing everything we can to keep us, and others, safe. When we do leave the house, he wears his mask properly, does not touch anything, and washes while singing the alphabet twice. He hates this as much as we all do, but understands why these actions are important.
It is because of all the reasons listed above that I decided tomorrow is a snow day for him. A day to be a kid. We stocked up on snacks and hot chocolate. His snowsuit, boots, and gloves are all ready to be donned tomorrow while we have a snowball fight, make snow angels, and chase the dog around the yard as he also enjoys the snow. We have a movie picked out to watch while we warm up after playing outside.
Education is important to us, and my son knows that, but he is still a kid. A child who has given up so much over the past year deserves to have this one day where he can be a kid again. When I was growing up my parents always let me take mental health days when I needed them, and I am viewing tomorrow as a mental health day. A day for my son to run around, laugh, and be a kid.
There will be schoolwork to make up, but it is a small price to pay when it comes to family memories to be made during the first big snow storm of the year. I know not every family will take the day off from school, but it is the right move for our family.
My son's excitement over the plans is palpable. Tomorrow is not just a day off. Tomorrow is a much needed and earned day of rest for him to recharge his batteries while getting to have a small glimmer of normalcy in a year that has been the antithesis of normal.