This week’s snow days will cost many students across the Triangle part of their spring break or upcoming Saturdays – sitting in school to make up for lost time.
Tuesday’s closures will extend to Wednesday because of hazardous road conditions caused by freezing temperatures. The Wake, Durham, Johnston, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange, Franklin, Chatham and Harnett school systems were among those announcing they would remain closed Wednesday.
A mid-February storm, when several days planned as possible makeups had gone by, has resulted in unpopular decisions by most school districts to schedule makeup days during spring break. In Wake County, where the majority of the district’s 155,000 students will already lose a day of spring break because of Tuesday’s snow day, some parents and students have been lobbying for an alternative.
With the backlash, Wake is holding off on announcing when the state’s largest school system will make up Wednesday and other days that could be lost this week.
“Wake County school leaders will review all school calendars and the options for makeup days once it is safe for schools to reopen,” the district announced Tuesday. “The schools operate on more than a half-dozen different academic calendars, from staggered year-round schedules to early college programs. All must be considered when making calendar adjustments.”
This week’s storm caused 100 of North Carolina’s 115 school systems to close Tuesday, according to Gov. Pat McCrory. Only districts in southeastern North Carolina remained open.
This winter had been much milder than last, when Triangle districts had to make up seven or more days of lost classes. Tuesday’s snow day was the first or second snow day of the year for Triangle districts.
Following the law
School districts are trying to adjust their schedules to comply with state law that requires students to receive 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction each school year.
“We only have two more makeup dates built into our calendar,” said Jeff Nash, a Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools spokesman. “We chose March 27 simply because it was the next available makeup day.”
The result is that Chapel Hill-Carrboro students are losing their first day of spring break.
In Wake, the first day of spring break will also be gone for students on the traditional calendar, modified calendar, the Vernon Malone College & Career Academy and the Wake Early College of Health and Sciences. Students at the Wake N.C. State STEM Early College will be in class on what was supposed to be their final day of spring break.
Wake’s year-round students will have classes Saturday.
Pending approval of the Johnston County school board, traditional-calendar students are slated to lose their last two days of spring break.
Some Wake parents and students took to Twitter on Tuesday to plead for spring break to be saved.
“Awful decision to use trad Spring Break for first makeup day!!!” one person tweeted. “Families have plans. Kids will miss more school now.”
Use longer days?
Other people tweeted to encourage Wake to repeat its solution last year: To add time to early release days when classes are dismissed 2 1/2 hours early. Wake had chosen that option to avoid further reducing spring break last year.
Lisa Luten, a Wake schools’ spokeswoman, said school leaders this year opted to follow the order of workdays for traditional-calendar schools. Wake’s other three remaining makeup days are June 9-11, after the end of the school year.
Teacher workdays are typically used as makeup days because students don’t have classes on those days.
Even though the closing of school Wednesday meant Durham’s traditional-calendar students now stand to lose their first day of spring break, they were still clamoring for the day off. Tuesday afternoon, school officials tweeted that an announcement on Wednesday school was coming soon.
“Slinging obscenities at us won’t make us go any faster,” the message continued. “We appreciate those who are respectful.”