SNOW HILL — Following a late-season blast of snow in what has already been a rough winter, a final school calendar seems to be shaping up for both Worcester and Wicomico counties.
As it stands, both counties are expecting Friday, June 13 to be the last day of classes for the 2013-2014 school year. Nothing is written in stone, however, since the denial of state emergency snow day waivers or another round of wintery weather could push those dates back even further.
Both districts lost more than a week of school days to snow this winter. Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) canceled classes for nine inclement weather days. The 2013-2014 calendar had three snow days built-in, meaning that the system will have to make up the remaining six. The Worcester County Board of Education had already voted to change April 17, the first day of Spring Break, from an off-day to a half-day.
“Because our school system far exceeds the 1,080-hour requirement for students to attend school over a 180-day period, half-days are able to qualify as full-days,” said Barbara Witherow, school system spokeswoman and facilitator of the calendar development process.
Likewise, the board voted this week to change March 28 from a Professional Day into another half-day, leaving only four inclement weather days for WCPS to reconcile. The school board also okayed Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson’s request to seek state waivers for three of those days — Jan. 29, March 3 and March 17 — based on the fact that all three days were snow emergencies. This would push the last day of school, which is a half-day, from a Thursday to a Friday.
“If the State Superintendent of Schools approves our request to waive three days from the 180-day requirement, our school system will have recouped five of the nine missed days,” said Wilson. “With three inclement weather days already built onto the end of our calendar, the likely last day of school would be Friday, June 13, but this is not yet official. We have to wait for waiver approval and for a consistent warming trend before making the last day of school official.”
This is similar to what Wicomico County schools are facing as well. That school system saw eight inclement weather days and officials told parents this week that the school year will likely be extended by five days to make up for most of those missed.
“At this time, Wicomico school system families should expect the school year to be extended by five days in June to make up five of the winter weather closing days,” read a release from the Wicomico Board of Education. “The school year had been scheduled to end Friday, June 6, but it will now likely end on Friday, June 13, with early dismissal on June 11, 12 and 13.”
There has been a lot of discussion on how to fill the eight days missed in Wicomico, including making Professional Days like March 31 or Spring Break time like April 17 school days as they are factored in as potential catch-up days in this year’s calendar. However, so far Wicomico educators are only indicating that parents should expect the school year to extend by five days.
“Since late January, a number of methods for making up the weather closing days have been considered and discussed with parents and teachers. It makes the most instructional sense to add five of those days on to the end of the year,” said Dr. John Fredericksen, Wicomico Superintendent of Schools.
Like Worcester, Wicomico could apply for waivers for some of the days that were missed or make up time in other ways, though a final announcement isn’t expected until early April when the snowy weather is hopefully over.