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Calendar allows for up to 10 days missed for weather

Since returning from winter break, students have not seen much of the inside of their schools. Due to two snowstorms, the students have missed a total of eight days so far. 

And they’re only through January.

With closings and delays, in the past two weeks they have only been in school one full day, and that was last Monday.

However, according to Halifax County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon, students have not missed enough days to cause them to have to make up any at a later date. 

Herndon explained the Halifax County School System has 10 days built into their calendar they are able to miss for inclement weather without having to make up any days.

That banked time leaves the students with two more days they can miss without repercussions. 

If the students were to miss more than the two days allotted, the Halifax County School Board would discuss “where to go from there,” she said. 

At this point the only discussion they’ve had is considering two possible days for make-up days. 

The first may be President’s Day on Monday, Feb. 17, which is currently a holiday for the students. 

Monday, March 17, is the second date up for consideration. It is currently a teacher workday. 

However, Herndon said, “Nothing has been planned because we are not there.” 

The 10 days built into the school calendar is based on the number of instructional hours rather than actual days students spend in a classroom. 

The yearly total number of instructional hours county students receive exceeds the minimum number required by the state. 

“Before I came, they were counting days, and I was used to counting clock hours. Which there is nothing wrong with counting days, it’s just a different way of doing it. If you already have the number of hours, you’re already building in days for inclement weather,” said Herndon. 

The rules of the State Board of Education say that the minimum length of a school day for students is six and a half hours. 

However, school systems may elect to extend the school day to at least seven hours for the purpose of meeting instructional time requirements missed due to dangerous or extreme weather conditions. 

If more snow falls in the county in the coming weeks and leads to more missed days from school, it is unclear how students will be impacted. 

At this point, Herndon said she could not say if future missed days will impact spring break scheduled for April 14 - 18. 

“I can’t say at this point. We haven’t even had February yet. In the past we’ve even had snow in March,” said Herndon. 

How numerous days missed for snow and cold will impact SOL testing is “a hard one and an easy one” for the school superintendent to answer. 

“It’s one less day for instruction. When it comes down to it, we’ll have so many days left to focus on what we can in a short amount of time,” said Herndon.  

This week, students could see more delays, early releases or closings as weather predictions are showing another possibility for a light wintry mix starting Friday.