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Ice throws curve ball in days to make-up

At first March 17 was scheduled to be a day off for students and a workday for teachers and administrators.

Then a decision was made students would go to school on that Monday which would be used as a banked make-up day.

But Mother Nature had her own ideas earlier this week.

When St. Patrick’s Day became another day off from school due to inclement weather, it placed school officials in an uncertain position on what that may mean for future make-up days. 

The icy weather began early Monday with temperatures reaching a low of 29 degrees, while sleet and rain fell sporadically for most the day. 

Temperatures dropped into the night, and come Tuesday morning, authorities reported many roadways were “a sheet of ice,” so schools remained closed on Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, the Lynchburg District of the Virginia Department of Transportation were warning motorists of wet, icy conditions on primary roads. 

Motorists were also warned of the possibility of downed trees and limbs and urged to avoid sudden changes of direction, drive slowly and brake gently. 

Originally school officials had made the decision to open schools Tuesday on a two-hour delayed schedule, but with icy road conditions reported in the early morning hours Tuesday, the delay was changed to another missed day of school in the county.

“Yesterday (Monday) was going to be a make-up day, so we are going to have to look at that. The calculations have changed,” said Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon Tuesday morning of what missing two days of school this week would mean in the future for students, teachers and administrators. 

When the board added Monday, March 17, as an instructional day, the 11th built-in make-up day would have allowed for schools to miss 15 days with no repercussions. 

According to the Virginia Department of Education, the first five missed days must be made up, then for every two days missed, one make-up day is required.

Tuesday became the 15th day missed this school year and uses up the last make-up day already banked.

If the school board is forced to look for additional make-up days, the board has three options from which to choose, according to Elementary Education/Professional Development Director Linda Owen. 

The options include adding 15 minutes to the beginning of the school day for 22 days, going to school on Saturdays or taking days from spring break. 

Rather than taking any action at the last school board meeting, board members agreed they would wait to see if parents would provide feedback on how they would like them to handle make-up days should that become necessary.

Herndon said while she has not received calls from anyone on the matter, she has been approached in public. 

“If I had to say what people would want the least, it would be taking days from spring break,” said Herndon. 

The superintendent did not comment on what option was more favorable but said it would be handled by the school board at the March 27 special called meeting. 

This meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the school board conference room in the Mary Bethune Office Complex.

The rest of the week looks promising for schools to run on regular schedule.

Even though residents were forced to bundle-up Tuesday as drizzle continued into the day, warmer temperatures are forecast for Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service, Wednesday’s high should reach 55 but be accompanied by a few showers. 

Sunshine will make its return by Thursday with a high of 64 followed by a high of 68 on Friday, according to the forecast.  

The warming trend is predicted to continue Saturday with an anticipated high of 69.