We didn’t have a snow day in southern Illinois in January, 1978, when I was in the 7th grade; we had a snow month. After a 16 inch storm one week and a blizzard the next – leaving 8 foot snow drifts - the town’s lone radio station announced, “All schools in the area are canceled until further notice.”
How times of snow day notices have changed. Now we have multiple channel alerts:
- TV and radio stations on air and web
- Oncall systems to telephone and/or text families
When schools debate the To Close or Not to Close question, families, teachers, school corp employees, and students all discuss it online, before the world. Smart schools provide an official voice to the social media conversation. They develop social media policies that encourage conversation in a constructive manner.
Slipping into Old Geezer mode to compare the present to the Blizzard of ’78.
I was a pedestrian newspaper carrier during that winter. I walked to the newspaper office downtown and then delivered papers to every store and home on either side of Main Street. Every Monday through Saturday of that winter, I delivered the paper, even the day the wind chill hit 10 below.
Snow drifts 2-3 foot high divided the middle of Main Street. As I went from customer to customer delivering papers, I warmed up in 1 store to then venture to the next.
That newspaper, with the radio station, were our town’s lifeline. Weather radios did not exist for consumers. Our pre-cable TV news was from Evansville, Indiana.
Now, when the threat of severe weather hits, we watch the forecasts on the news and listen to them on the radio. We rely more on news online than in print. Facebook lets me see how the storm impacts my friends. Twitter gives me a view of the storm’s impact on our area and what will happen next.
If or when a comparable blizzard hits, technology will make it easier to survive. Smart schools will leverage tech to communicate better.
Maybe, if or when a future blizzard happens, my grandchildren won’t miss a month of school and trudge a paper route. Schools will keep classes going online, sharing information instantly with students in ways not yet invented.