RACINE — Because of COVID-19 protocols, the traditional snow day is quickly becoming a thing of the past and it could be seen on full display in the City of Racine Tuesday.
"The hill would be packed," Rachel Duchac, a middle school teacher at St. John's Lutheran in Racine said.
Duchac and her students are off today because of the snow. Their school has been in-person for the better part of the school year. However, rather than spend the day at home, grading papers, she and several other teachers organized a group sledding day at Lockwood Park.
"We bypassed remote learning and online learning," Duchac said. "We were granted a traditional snow day so we're taking advantage of it definitely, getting kids away from the screens and some other restrictions we have in school. Outside, fresh air, it's always great."
That's not the case for Wisconsin's fifth-largest school district, Racine Unified. Their kids are at home today too, but they're learning virtually and not missing a day of school.
Duchac's daughter Molly, a 5th grader at St. John's Lutheran, can still enjoy the thrill of an impromptu day off.
"I like it," Molly said. "It's pretty fun. When we had to go virtual, I missed [my friends] a lot but now, I'm really happy to see them."
The group of students, maybe a dozen or so, zipped down the hill in their sleds, tubes or even the occasional snowboard. For a moment, it felt as if nothing was different. The snow pummeled their faces, reddening cheeks and tumbles from their snow sledding vehicles left raspberries on some chins. Absent, the world of politics or pandemic talks. The only disappointment; the snow is too soft to get the speed one needs to feel their stomachs drop and truly freeze one's teeth from grinning from ear to ear too long in frigid temperatures.
"Standing up on it," Cooper Hauge, a third-grader said of his favorite part of snowboarding. "It's been hard to snowboard."
Down the road from Lockwood Park, a snapshot of adulthood. The hum of snowplows usurped the joyous screams at the park. The modern snow removal systems trying to keep up with Mother Nature.
"I'm just trying to keep up with it before I go to work," Michael Smith said. "So I don't come home to a foot tonight."
Smith circled the corner of his mother's home Tuesday morning. Clearing much more snow than was being added with each passing. He may be far removed from the joy felt of hurling your body down a hill head first, but he's enjoying the joy that only comes from warming his soul during a cold day.
"Got to take care of mom," Smith said. "Snow, grass, all of that. You have to."
The City of Racine has declared a snow emergency until midnight Tuesday. There are several parking restrictions in place until it is over.