Snow Closures Force Extra Week For County Schools

NEWARK – Without a waiver from the Maryland State Department of Education, Worcester County public school students will be in the classroom until June 21 to make up for more than a week of snow days.

Students will stay in class an extra week, unless the state waives the 180 instructional day requirement. Students were originally slated to get out of school for the summer on June 15.          

“If there are no additional closures, the last day of school would be June 21,” said Andes.

Worcester County has three inclement weather days built into the schedule, leaving several days to be made up.

“At this point in time, our schools due to snow and other inclement weather have been closed nine days,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes.

County schools have also experienced four two-hour delays this winter and one early dismissal for bad weather.

The school system can make up two days through holding a half day of classes on April 1, meant as a professional day for teachers to finish grading, and shortening spring break by one day, and holding a full day of classes on April 6.

Without adding those two days back into the school schedule, students would be in class until June 23.

All Maryland school systems are required by state law to teach for 180 school days.

The school system could receive a waiver of some of or all of the missed days. An upcoming meeting between the state and local school systems will clarify the waiver situation.

Worcester County Board of Education member Bob Rothermel warned that fog delays are still likely and the school system needs to prepare to make up more time.

Rothermel said he is not hopeful over the school calendar waiver.

“I think we need to pull another day out of that spring break and look for other opportunities between now and May,” Rothermel said.

Between now and the end of the school year, Worcester County schools would only be closed on April 1-2 and 5 and one day in May.

“The only other day we could possibly look at and address is Memorial Day, May 31,” said Andes. “Otherwise, between now and the end of the school year, schools are open, unless there’s more snow.” 

The school board will decide whether to pursue a waiver of the 180-day requirement at its March 16 meeting, Andes said.

“At this point in time we’re waiting for [State Superintendent] Dr. Grasmick to give us further guidance on the criteria for which a waiver would be granted,” Andes said.

The school system would prefer not to continue regular classes until June 21, or later if more inclement weather descends on Worcester County, to avoid interfering with summer school and summer art camps.

Andes could not say how many days they would ask to be waived. With three closure days built into the schedule already, and two more made up through calendar adjustments, five days must be made up through extending school unless a waiver is granted.

Winter, Andes noted, is not yet over.

“This is all predicated on the assumption we’ll have no more snow days,” he said.

The school board will decide how many days to include in the waiver request in March. Winter’s wrath should be complete by the school board’s next meeting and no more closures are expected after that.

In the past, the state school board has been flexible in granting waivers to the 180-day minimum, Andes said.