How Do Snow Days Work at PDS?


Photo by Jonathan Petersson from Pexels

Emma Ozdogan, Online Arts Editor

One of the most common questions students have is how snow days are planned and executed at PDS. Many find themselves asking whether there are a limited amount of days they can have off and if PDS follows the lead of other schools. Due to the heavy snow this winter, these questions remain a relevant and popular topic of conversation, leaving many wondering how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the school’s approach. Will there still be snow days now that remote learning is a viable option? Is PDS following the example set by other schools? Having consulted Acting Head of Upper School Chris Rhodes and Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations Dulany Gibson, there are clear answers to all of the community’s questions and concerns. 

To begin, PDS matched Princeton Public Schools’ (PPS) cancellation decisions before the pandemic. Now, according to Ms. Gibson, “PPS is running in a hybrid mode; and they have made the decision to have no snow days, but rather to go ‘all remote’ when inclement weather is expected. PDS has continued to follow PPS’ lead, but to declare a ‘snow day’ when PPS goes ‘all remote.’” This decision is tied into the student council’s proposal to keep snow days the way they always have been, which Dean of Students Elizabeth Monroe and Mr. Rhodes “happily” signed-off on. To Mr. Rhodes, “there’s magic to snow days that’s important…particularly this year, it was important to have that moment of joy when you get up in the morning or go to bed at night and have that unexpected day off.” 

In determining these “days of frolic,” as dubbed by Mr. Rhodes, keeping an eye on the community’s stress levels and assessment load is important as well. Just before breaks or long-weekends, there are “pressure points” where lots of tests, papers, and projects are due. By increasing the number of days off, assessments could potentially be rescheduled and condensed into fewer days, which may serve as a stressor for students. Because of this, the more days off from school in a given period, the lower the odds of future snow days within the coming weeks. This does not mean that there is a limited number of snow days, however. Unlike local public schools, PDS does not have a predetermined number of snow days permitted for each year. 

Lastly, when determining if PDS will have a snow day, the PDS “Director of Security, [Robert] Toole, checks in with the Princeton Police transportation department to get information about local road conditions. In addition, our Director of Facilities Operations, [Robert]Clemens, keeps us informed about conditions on campus,” Ms. Gibson added. 

Overall, various factors play a role in deciding whether or not PDS has a snow day, from traffic conditions to the mental health of students. Despite Princeton Public Schools removing snow days now that remote learning is an option, PDS will continue to keep these rare, special days of rest.