Sleeping late, sledding and binge-watching sitcoms from the 1990s last week came at a cost for thousands of Wake County year-round students, and they paid up with a half-day of school on Saturday.
Well, most did. Nancy Allen, principal of Durant Road Middle School, said she expected about 75 percent of her students to attend the first makeup day of the year, the delayed effect of the winter storm that shut down Wake County Public Schools on Friday and Monday. Some area school systems also were closed on Tuesday.
“Good morning! Thank you for being here today,” she said cheerily as two girls shuffled in from the bus and headed to their first class just after 8 a.m.
Durant Road Middle has 1,240 students, about 900 of whom are in the tracks included in the makeup day. Allen said most of those who were absent were attending events that had long been on their calendars, including a county-wide chorus performance and the annual Odyssey of the Mind competition.
North Carolina school systems are required to have either 185 days of school or 1,025 hours of instruction each academic year.
All schools have more than 1,025 hours built into their schedules to absorb some bad-weather days. The Orange and Chatham county school systems are using their extra time so their students will not have to make up the three recent snow days.
But other Triangle systems, including Wake, have decided to make up the snow days first. They may switch to using their extra time if schools are forced to close again this winter because of weather.
Wake’s year-round schools were open Saturday because most follow a multitrack calendar, in which students are split into four groups with three in class at all times. This schedule means there aren’t weekdays when the buildings are empty and can be used for makeup days.
In contrast, traditional-calendar schools will convert teacher workdays into makeup days.
Saturday’s makeup day started at the regular time, but students were released around noon. To make the most of the half-day, each class was shortened and there was no recess. No lunch or breakfast was served.
Neither was it a throw-away day of classroom parties.
“This is not video-and-cookie day,” Allen said. “We don’t have those.”
Hannah Franklin, 13, and Sierra Lowery, 12, were hard at work planning their project for the science fair coming up in late February. They’ll be comparing the shell strength of eggs from three different grocery store chains. They didn’t grouse about having to be in school on Saturday. In fact, Hannah said, “We’ll probably get together tomorrow and finish working on it. It’s good to get it done ahead of time.”
Their teacher, Amy Soffa, who switched to full-time teaching a year ago after an earlier career as a dog trainer, was no less enthusiastic about being in school on a weekend. Never mind that she also worked last weekend, planning for her students while they skidded on the ice or logged into Netflix. She even came to school for a while on Sunday, when the parking lot was still full of icebergs.
Jeff Land’s eighth-grade social studies and language arts students made up an exercise on Saturday that had been scheduled for one of the days they missed. They divided into groups and moved between three stations in the school’s media center, learning about how and why to avoid plagiarism.
If not for having to come to school, most said they would have slept in, spent time with friends or family, or watched TV.
Jennifer Mejia, 13, figured a half-day of school was the easier of two ways she might have spent the morning.
“This is better than doing chores,” she said.
Triangle school makeup days
Triangle school systems have announced how they’ll cope with the days schools were closed because of this month’s snow storm. Some districts will hold makeup days and others won’t make up the time.
Traditional calendar: Feb. 15, March 24
Year-round students: April 2 for tracks 1, 2 and 3. Track 4 had its lone make-up day Jan. 30.
Modified calendar: Feb. 15, March 7
Single-gender leadership academies: Feb. 15-16
Wake Early College of Health and Sciences and the Vernon Malone College and Career Academy:March 3, March 18
Wake STEM Early College: May 6, May 23.
Traditional calendar: Feb. 15, April 18-19
Year-round: Feb. 15, March 14-15
City of Medicine Academy: Feb. 15, March 18, April 18
Early College: Feb. 19, March 28, April 15
Middle College: March 18, March 28, April 15
Pending school board approval, a makeup day will be Feb. 15 for traditional-calendar and year-round students and March 7 for the early and middle colleges.
Feb. 15, March 25, April 4
Chatham and Orange counties
Districts will use banked time to not make up three snow days.