Snow days impact families differently

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Erica Newburgh moved to the community from New York City with her husband two years ago, and thus far has loved the slower pace of life. She works from home and has two boys, ages 5 and 7.

But while she said her family knew that Maine received a great deal of snow, she said they did not think about how that snow impacted the schools and the community.

“In New York City, they really don’t receive a great deal of snow, and it doesn’t really impact how the city operates,” she explained. “So when we moved here, we were surprised when our neighbors talked about the threat of schools being cancelled and businesses being shut down. I at first thought they were kidding.”

She soon realized they weren’t, however, when on the first major storm day, one of her first friends called to tell her that her child’s school was getting out at noon.

“I was shocked,” she said, laughing. “Luckily, we live within walking distance to the school, because at that point, I was still not that comfortable driving on icy roads. So I walked to the school and got my son. But that meant I had to find something to entertain him the rest of the day while I kept working. It was difficult, because I have the type of job where it requires a great deal of silence, because I do a lot of conference calls and we have a very small house. It is not like I can just put him down in front of the television or tell him to ‘quietly’ play with his toys. He is a growing boy who likes to run around the house.”

This year, she has hired a neighbor to babysit the children if school is cancelled or let out early.

“It takes money out of our budget, but it is important for the boys,” she said.

Channa Jackson, an attorney from New Sweden, said that she understands the frustration..

She has two children who attend school full time in SAD 1, a daughter who is 11, and a son who is 8-years-old. She said that how she handles child care depends on whether she is in court that day or not.

“When school is cancelled at noon, I have to use my earned time to go get my children and drive them home,” she said. “It is more difficult if court is in session. Then I have to scramble. Once, when I was on my way to court in Fort Kent, I had to pick up my children and drop them off at my parents house on the way.”

Jackson said that she recognized she was luckier than many parents because she has “a great deal of family support.”

She said she also does not believe that school administrators are called off classes more than normal.

“I just think it seems that way because we are getting snow more quickly than in years past,” she said.