Parents, schools feel effects of snow days

NASHUA – Many Greater Nashua students are enjoying an unexpected vacation as a series of storms forced schools to cancel several days of class.

But parents, schools and daycare centers say they’re feeling the impact.

Camila Fonseca’s son, Aidan, a first grader at Dr. H.O. Smith School in Hudson, had two days off last week.

"We’re lucky that his grandfather can watch him, but there was one day (Thursday) that he couldn’t watch him, so I actually had to call out," Fonseca said.

Fonseca said her employer is fine with her taking the time off occasionally, but acknowledged that not that not all parents are so lucky.

Lindsay Benson, of Hudson, who stays at home with her two-year-old twins, also cared for her kindergartener son a couple times last week.

"It was definitely crazy having him around," Benson said. "He likes the structure and routine of being at school, so he was a little bit all over the place… and my husband’s been traveling all week, so it was a little crazy."

Roland Boucher, Nashua’s interim assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said that snow days have a major impact on the flow of instruction.

"Teachers have routines, lesson plans and plans for assessments and all those get shoveled when we have a snow day," Boucher said.

Boucher said the biggest challenge for teachers is to renew the momentum they had before going into the snow days.

Boucher said the Nashua School District cancelled class after the storm on Friday, because the time was needed to clear roads and sidewalks so students could arrive safely.

"We had some people that weren’t happy, but safety is our main priority," he said.

Ellen Kedzierski, 10, of Nashua, embraced her day off Friday by romping in the snow and cold wind with her dog Niko.

"I love having a snow day, but I also miss school," Ellen said.

Though, she said, if she had to choose, she’d definitely take the snow day over going to school.

Ellen is a student at the Academy of Science and Design Her school, and she said her school is different because students receive "snow packets" – online work they do on their day off – so that they don’t have additional school days at the end of the year.

Her sister, Mia, who is a student at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School, said she’s not so lucky.

"We don’t have that, sadly," Mia said. "We just get extra days."

Norm Bouthilette, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, said staff have to stay on their toes when dealing with snowstorms.

"Every storm is different and it depends on timing," Bouthilette said. "If we can safely open, we generally will do that."

The club was closed on Thursday during the storm, but opened at 9 a.m. on Friday to accommodate children who would not be in school that day. On a normal school day, the club opens at 2:30 p.m.

"We realize that going to work is important, and you can’t always bring your kids to work," he said.

Jane Marquis, child care coordinator at the Adult Learning Center in Nashua, said families there often tag team to deal with snow day challenges. Yuri Jaynes, whose daughter Shirley attends the adult learning center child center, agreed with Marquis’ assessment.

"A lot of parents in Shirley’s class are single; but they take care of each other’s kids," Jaynes said.

Jaynes said the key for most parents is getting creative.

"I think you have to have a backup plan," she said.

Derek Edry can be reached at 594-1243, or @Telegraph_Derek.