Southeast Missouri State University student publication

The death of the snow day

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Southeast students sled down the snow-covered hill on the band practice field Feb. 16. Students made makeshift sleds out of cardboard during the snow day. Photo by Allison Lauter
Photo by Allison Lauter

As snow and assignments pile up, students wonder if virtual instruction has put an end to the traditional snow day.

Southeast had two winter weather closings on Feb. 15 and 16. The Emergency Notification System put out a message stating “Virtual instruction & teleworking encouraged” while the campus itself was closed. COVID-19 regulations have forced students into a whirlwind of virtual learning. Southeast left the decision to virtually learn on a snow day up to professors, causing issues with students who rely on campus internet.

Education professor Ruth Orr said Zoom fatigues students and staff, especially when students know the university is closed. She said Zoom has potential to be beneficial if done appropriately. Orr stressed the importance of breakout rooms and small group activities over zoom.

“Virtual learning done correctly is more than just hooking into Zoom. My concern is my ability as an instructor to make proper use of the platform to deliver effective instruction,” Orr said.

During a snowstorm, remote learning also presents challenges for students, including additional distractions, missing face-to-face interaction and creating meaningful connections with professors. Despite these challenges, in a recent poll conducted by the Arrow on Living at Southeast, 364 of 484 student participants voted that they believe standard, no-work snow days will cease to exist because of technological capabilities to work from home.

With this new approach to education during inclement weather, students voiced a concern for people lacking proper technological devices if they cannot get to school.

“I think Southeast struggled with the weather closures,” senior Rachel Ann said. “When it comes to accessibility with virtual learning, I think asking students to do online learning during a snow day is frustrating. Not all students have the technological ability.”

Students who live in rural areas face challenges with the reliable internet connections needed to access virtual learning, as many rural areas do not have access to high-speed internet.

“Not even rural students but students that live in the city or cannot pay for good internet or Wi-Fi are struggling to get assignments done on these snow days,” said senior Annie Martin, who believes virtual distanced learning is the future of education for students who experience any inconvenience to in-person learning.

Professional education researcher Karen Swan at the Research Center for Educational Technology said online learning will continue to grow, and artificial intelligence will soon personalize learning.

“It will increasingly incorporate competency-based and adaptive learning, it will make greater and greater use of analytics and big data to track understanding as well as success,” Swan said.

Administration considers many factors before making the decision to close the entire university, due to the number of people the closure affects. University Communications Director Kathy Harper said the vice president for finance and administration meets with the Department of Public Safety, Facilities Management, the president, the University Center and other university leaders to discuss the situation from multiple perspectives before the president makes the final decision to close or not.

For more information on university closings, visit, or visit for online instruction.