5 Questions to Ask the School About Snow Days

If you live in a part of the country where winter weather shuts stuff down, chances are school will be called on account of snow at least a few times between Thanksgiving and Easter. Most kids are happy about that, and maybe parents are too if it means not having to drive over the river and through the woods to the unshoveled drop-off lane. For kids with special needs, though, a day off isn't such a treat. Kids who thrive on routine don't give it up easily. And for many of our kids, school is where they get needed occupational, physical, and speech therapy that can't be missed without messing up goals. Do you know everything you need to about how snow days affect your child? Ask these five questions to get up to speed.

1
Will my child's therapy be rescheduled?

Child Looking Out Window at the Snow
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If you don't ask, absolutely the answer to that will be no. If you do ask, you'll probably be assured that the time will be made up in some unspecified way that possibly involves time travel. Request specifics. Offer to bring your child before or after school if you can to squeeze in that missed time. Make sure the time isn't being made up in a way that causes your child to fall behind in academics. If there are many missed sessions and they can't be made up in any acceptable way, you may be able to get them provided to your child in the summer. Never forget that your child's IEP requires a certain number of sessions per week, and it does not make exceptions for a snowpocalypse.

2
Is there something I can do at home to reinforce therapy goals?

While you hope that your child will eventually get those sessions that the school is legally obligated to provide, you also want to keep the good work of PTs and OTs and speech therapists going on that very day your child is missing school. This is why it's always a good idea to ask those therapists about things that can be done at home to make the most of those short school sessions. If you're caught in a snow day and haven't yet asked this question, look at your child's IEP for some ideas of things to work on.

3
Is there something I can do at home to reinforce academic goals?

It may seem unfair to give your child schoolwork on a snow day; certainly your child will argue that fact. But you do have a whole day to fill with amusements, and if some of those could involve the same skills that the teacher is working on at school, so much the better. Ask the teacher whenever you have the opportunity for ideas of fun ways to reinforce classroom concepts. Your child's IEP can also give you a clue of some goals to follow, as can your child's homework. 

4
Is there something I can do at home to replace the classroom routine?

You can't completely recreate your child's classroom routine in your own home, unless all the classmates and teachers and paraprofessionals want to stop by for cocoa. But if you've asked for some information from the teacher as to what usually happens when, you can talk to your child about what might be going on at various times of day and help maintain a connection to what you hope is a comforting and consistent school routine. If you're going to do some goal reinforcement, making it part of some school-day play might make your child more willing to go along. Or maybe your child wants to be teacher for the day!

5
What is the bus schedule for delayed openings?

All good snow days must end, and in areas where snow removal is not an exact science, going back to school may involve a delayed opening that will bring the bus to your house at a different time. Chances are, you can just add the number of hours and minutes later school is starting to your normal pickup time, but it doesn't hurt to check in with the bus company or whoever you contact regarding bus issues to find out exactly how they adjust the bus schedule when the school schedule changes.

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