The Simpson family goes to a French circus. While watching the show a freak snowstorm hits the circus tent. It's a relentless snowstorm; everything closes, except for Springfield Elementary; Principal Skinner doesn't want to ruin his "Cal Ripken-like streak of school openage."
With the teachers at an "emergency caucus," Skinner has the kids sit through a terrible film. When they go to leave at the end of the day, they find that the school is snowed in. The kids start to revolt against Skinner, so he gets tough with them.
Meanwhile, Homer and Flanders go to save the kids, but get stranded in a snow bank. Skinner loses control of the school to the kids, led by Bart and he ends up trapped in a bag. The kids go through the schools records. Skinner sends a hamster out in the snow in an attempt to save himself.
Homer and Flanders pass out due to carbon monoxide poisoning and Homer has bizarre fantasies about ranch dressing. The hamster saves them, leaving them free to save the kids. Skinner and Bart agree never to discuss the day again.