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Snow days

By Staff | Mar 2, 2014

Schools in Faribault County have seen the affects of a true Minnesota winter.

Both Blue Earth Area and United South Central districts have been busy fitting makeup days into their current school year.

According to USC’s superintendent Dr. Jerry Jensen, students have missed five full days, one late start and two early outs.

BEA has missed a similar amount due to snow or extreme temperatures.

Evan Gough, BEA superintendent, says students have technically had five full days, two early releases (one at noon and one at 10:45 a.m.) and two two-hour late starts.

“We had scheduled a makeup day on Presidents Day, but ended up taking a snow day that day instead,” Gough explains. “So, we have only, technically, missed four full days.”

Both schools have come up with ideas on how to make up the amount of snow days that have been piling up this winter.

“We already have all the days we’ve missed scheduled to be made up,”?Jensen says.

USC students will add a school day on the Monday after their Easter break to make up one of their missed days.

Jensen adds there are already a number of built in days for the purpose of snow days. “The board will be acting on adding April 21 as a student day at the March School Board meeting,”?Gough says.

However, it’s not as simple as a number of days; Minnesota students are actually required a certain amount of hours of classroom time.

According to the State of Minnesota, high school and middle school students are required to attend a minimum of 1,020 hours per school year and elementary students are required a minimum of 935 hours.

So, the early outs and late starts do not count as a full day which would have to be made up. They would only count against the number of hours for the students.

“The classroom hours are certainly more of an issue than the days,”?Jensen says. “But, we have excess hours built into our schedule since our school days are longer than most schedules.”

And, BEA?has recently put a similar approach in action, in order to add to the classroom hours.

“Beginning Feb. 25, we have started the school day at 8:20 a.m. instead of 8:25 a.m.,” Gough says.

This is something BEA?was planning to begin next school year but began this winter instead, due to the amount of snow days needed.

As for extending the school year, the schools are hoping to finish as scheduled.

“Graduation date is set in stone,” Gough says. “The seniors’ hours will be set prior to that date.”

USC’s graduation, which is scheduled for June 1, will not be affected by the snow days either.

“Some of the students may have to attend a couple days after graduation, but the seniors will not,”?Jensen explains.

So, as it stands, the schools should only have to add a couple of additional days to the calendar using existing days off as school days instead.

“However, if we get a number of snow days, then we’re going to have to start adding days to the calendar,”?Jensen adds.

And both superintendents are hoping there won’t be too many more snow days this winter, and if it has to be the case, early outs will be used.

“Even when a blizzard is forecasted for the period of an entire school day, you have to wait for it to come to fruition,”?Gough says. “That’s when we use early outs because, like I?said, it would count toward the number of hours rather than be considered a full day.”

It seems the snow days are piling up for the students as fast as the snow is piling up outside. However, the days are on schedule to be made up without extending the school year past graduation yet.