COLUMBIA, Mo. — Some Missouri lawmakers have the week off due to snow and Arctic temperatures, but for some, snow days are becoming a thing of the past thanks to the pandemic.
The University of Missouri campus was quiet Monday as students hunkered down in their dorm rooms and apartments. Just like the rest of the state, mid-Missouri had become a winter wonderland.
Compared to snow days in the past however, students still had to report to class. Instead of being in person, they went online.
Just south of Columbia in Jefferson City, snow days are still very much a thing for lawmakers. Both the Senate and House canceled the legislative session and hearings for Monday. Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) tweeted Monday saying the Senate would not be in session all week due to snow and ice in the forecast.
The House also canceled session and hearings for Tuesday. House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher (R-Des Peres) said the House plans to be in session Wednesday and Thursday.
Over in Columbia, snow-covered Mizzou’s campus and bitter cold forced people inside, but snow days look a little different this year.
“This really continues our academics while keeping everyone as safe and possible,” Mizzou Communications Director Christian Basi said. “What the pandemic has taught us was that the technology has evolved enough and is good enough that we can have the same quality of learning or higher for our students, continue their academic process online and not be disruptive to the schedule.”
Basi said the university decided last semester to do away with snow days.
“We’ve been very clear with the faculty since December saying, ‘Hey, we need to be prepared to shift quickly,'” Basi said. “We would no longer have snow days, that we would be doing remote work and learning as much as possible.”
He said when people heard the news that Mizzou was doing away with snow days, it wasn’t something they were happy to hear.
“Back at the time, the reaction was we are going to miss our snow days, but on the other hand, we understand that we can actually do this now with the technology that’s available,” Basi said.
Besides classes, Basi said the university has used technology for other things on campus.
“There are other areas thought that technology has helped us,” Basi said. “Over at the library, you can access a ton of materials from the library online.”
The university doesn’t add extra days at the end of the year if Mizzou has too many snow days. Basi said, instead, faculty have had to use the “Stop Day” at the end of the semester to make up for too many missed days. “Stop Day” is the last day of the semester before exams, allowing students to use the day to study.
“This almost ensures a 100% that, that is going to be available to them [students] for the foreseeable future,” Basi said. “So, it’s a good thing, even though yes, we lost our snow days.”
Since the pandemic started, Mizzou has moved to virtual learning twice, once last spring and another right after Thanksgiving.
“We’ve been able to make that shift relativity seamlessly, and we are getting better at it every time,” Basi said.
Classes like labs and clinicals can be difficult to move online, Basi said those teachers make the decision if they want to cancel their classes.
Mizzou announced Monday night, Tuesday will be another remote snow day.