February’s record-setting snowfall brought life for Eastside schools to a halt.
Parents, students and teachers have questioned how districts will accommodate for the school days missed due to the snowstorms. Most Eastside school districts have one to five snow days built into their academic calendars.
Lake Washington School District (LWSD) and Issaquah School District (ISD) have one built-in make-up day, Bellevue School District (BSD) has two, Mercer Island School District (MISD) has three and Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) has five.
Other school districts, including Northshore School District (NSD), do not have designated built-in make-up days but add the missed days at the end of the school year.
Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for the Washington snowstorms on Feb. 8, when the brunt of the snowstorms were forecasted.
The majority of Eastside schools were closed for five days, as well as two-hour late starts and early releases. However, ISD, SVSD, and NSD missed six or seven full days of school. By Washington State law, all school districts are mandated to have an average of 1,027 hours of instruction for students.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Chris Reykdal said school districts have the opportunity to apply to waive days that were missed while the state of emergency was in effect. Even if school districts are granted a waiver, they are required to meet the average total instructional hour offerings.
“Most districts have a daily schedule that more than ensures they meet 1,027 hours even if they reduce their total days by two or three. When that can’t be achieved, districts will continue to meet their required hours by eliminating release days, adding days to the end of the year, or by any other means legally provided to local school boards,” Reykdal said in a statement.
Making up days
Some Eastside school districts have released their final plans to address the snow days.
LWSD lost five days to snow. Along with other Eastside school districts, LWSD has requested waivers from the OSPI. The district has one built-in snow day, so it has been determined that the district will have to make up 2.5 school days.
Wednesdays May 1 and 8 and June 19 have been extended from half days to full days. Friday May 24, and Tuesday May 28 have been changed from non-school days to full school days. And Thursday June 20 has been added and will be the last day of school.
“These changes were made in consideration of students, families and staff. It should be noted that high school graduation dates and times will not be affected by these changes,” the district said in a press release.
ISD lost six days to snow. In accordance with the district’s negotiated agreements and approved 2018-19 school year calendar, the six days of school missed due to weather will be added to the end of the current school year calendar. The last day of school is now Thursday, June 27.
ISD said in a statement that applying for a state waiver was “not a viable option this year.”
“Every school district in our region has a unique set of circumstances related to how they might make up snow days,” the district said in a statement. “Options such as built in snow make-up days, conversion of non-student professional development days, state waivers or renegotiating instruction time are not viable options for the ISD this year. With this recent snow event resetting our common experience, the district is exploring opportunities to build in more snow day make-up options to our future calendars.”
The district posted its schedule for the last day of school on its website.
MISD lost five school days in February due to inclement weather. The three calendared weather make-up days will now be regular school days. School operated on a normal schedule on March 11 and will operate on a normal schedule on May 24 and June 21.
The district plans to apply for a waiver for the remaining two snow days through the OSPI.
“We will let our families know when the state acts upon our waiver request,” the district stated in a press release.
High school graduation will not be affected by the changes and will occur on June 11, as scheduled.
BSD lost five school days. As a result, the district will extend the school year by one day. The last day of school is scheduled for Friday, June 21.
One additional make-up day was added on March 15. The day was originally a planned professional development day for teachers.
“The district will request a waiver from the OSPI for the remaining three missed school days due to snow,” the district said in a press release. “Additional days could still be added pending approval by the state of the district waiver request.”
SVSD lost seven school days to the snow. The district plans to add two school days that were designated as potential make-up days on the 2018-19 school calendar and request a waiver from the OSPI for five days.
The district plans to change the schedule for the remaining school year, such as converting 10 early release Fridays to full school days beginning March 29. The district will also add 12 minutes to the end of every school day, starting March 25 and extending through June 13.
The last day of school will be June 14 for grades K-12. It will follow the district’s normal last day of school early dismissal schedule.
“This solution ensures Snoqualmie Valley students can recoup instructional time during the school year when learning time is most effective,” the district said in a press release. “At the same time, it works to minimize any disruption to the Mount Si High School construction schedule, which continues on time and on budget, to serve students next September.”
Making up hours
NSD, which missed eight school days to snow, plans to adjust start times and extending the remaining Wednesdays to full school days.
The district is requesting a waiver from the OPSI for five of the eight missed school days.
“We are still required to complete 1,027 hours of instructional time. Therefore we must make up the instructional hours lost from waiving five school days, as well as the remaining three schools days that we are unable to waive,” the district said in a press release. “To avoid ending the year in July, our plan involves changing the last day of school, adjusting start times and extending most Wednesdays to full days.”
Beginning March 11, school will begin ten minutes earlier. Buses will pick up students ten minutes earlier than their original pick up time and there will be no change to daily dismissal times.
March 20 remained an early release day and June 5 will also remain an early release day. All other Wednesdays will be full days. As with other school districts, there will be no change to graduation dates and predetermined school breaks. The last day of school is scheduled for June 24.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the number of school days LWSD lost to snow. The district lost five school days.