A slew of snow days have delighted students this winter, but with the season far from over, officials in Harford County Public Schools have yet to determine how they will make up for any more school closings this year.
The current school calendar includes the state-required minimum of 180 school days, plus six potential school days to be used as make up days when schools are closed for inclement weather. As snow and ice closed schools six times this winter, all six of the potential make up days, two days in the spring and four days at the end of the school year, became school days to ensure that the 180-day requirement would be met. School will now be open for students on Friday April 1 and Friday May 20 (both of which were initially planned as off days); Friday June 17 is now the last day of school, with June 23 being the last day for teachers.
Because the calendar is distributed at the beginning of each school year, parents and school staff know they’re taking a chance if they make travel or other plans on potential make up days. But with all of the designated days used, additional snow days will leave HCPS short of school days and leave the school calendar up in the air.
In that event, Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications for HCPS told The Dagger, “As with the blizzards last year, we will develop a plan to try and make up days if possible and when that is exhausted we will look to [the Maryland State Department of Education] for a waiver of days. Not knowing what lies ahead in terms of weather, I cannot predict at this time if we would seek a waiver nor how many days we would seek.”
Last year, the state allowed local school systems to apply for waivers of up to five days from the 180-day requirement. Harford County requested and received a waiver of three days.
Absent a waiver, Kranefeld wouldn’t speculate as to how any additional snow days might be made up, citing pending discussions by top HCPS officials known as the “Leadership Team”. In past years, other school systems in the region have planned to make up days in a variety of ways, including cutting days from spring break, extending the school day and holding school on (gasp!) Saturday.