Snow Days in a Residential Treatment Facility
Snow days present an unique challenge to teachers and therapists who work in residential treatment facilities. Someone needs to be providing supervision and active treatment for the residents, but snow days are dangerous to be out and about. What to do! When I first started working at the facility, we HAD to come in to work or be docked pay. Things have evolved into a more equitable process where we have essential and nonessential staff who come in. We have enough staff to provide a comfortable ration and all students receive music therapy on snow days. In return, I get snow day credit - time off at a later date (generally around Spring Break) to spend as I see fit. I feel the risk is outweighed by the benefits in this case.
Snow days start with students sleeping in - the rationale is that all of the other students in the town get a relaxing day, so why shouldn't ours as well? We let students sleep until they wake up naturally. You'd be surprised how many students wake at the normal time when they do not have to! Then, we go down and eat breakfast. The rest of the day includes time in the gym for unstructured play and exercise and a music therapy session. Classrooms cook treats, watch movies, and relax during the day. We have no major behavior issues during snow days - it amazes all of us who are on essential staff!
Now, we have decided that two snow days in a row are our limit. By snow day 2, the novelty has worn off on relaxing and boredom starts to set in. Heaven help us if we ever have snow day 3-in-a-row! But, for now, the snow days start to add up, I can make Spring Break plans, and we actually have school today. The drama restarts as the nonessential staff members come back and expect us to work! SNARK!