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Some Schools Still Closed From Winter Storm, Officials Plan Make Up Days

school bus with snow
ecksunderscore via Flickr Creative Commons

With many schools across eastern and central North Carolina still closed this morning, school officials say they are working to ensure students make up the appropriate number of days.

Each school year, most districts build in additional days in case of closings due to inclement weather.

Jeff Nash, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system, says his district designated eight days that could be used to make up time.

“Four of them have already passed,” he says. “We’ve only got four days left, one or two of them might be bordering Spring Break and that’s where it gets a little sticky.”

As in the case of Chapel-Hill/Carrboro schools, many districts rely on teacher workdays for make-up days.

In 2012, state lawmakers changed the minimum requirement of instruction time. Starting this school year, districts were required to have either 185 days of classes or 1,025 hours of instruction. In the past, the requirement was 180 days and 1,000 hours.

That new benchmark could affect how schools operate during bad weather, says Nash.

“Whenever possible, you don’t want to miss a full day because that does become a logistical issue of having to do a make-up day,” he says. “If you can have school, even if it’s reduced to an hour, that’s a much better situation. But of course you’ve got to balance that with safety.”

Cheryl Shuffler, spokeswoman for Winston-Salem/Forsyth schools, says she doesn’t expect the new standards to impact their decisions to delay or close schools during bad weather.

“I think the biggest deciding factor is obviously student safety,” she says.

Like many school districts, Winston-Salem/Forsyth created a schedule with at least 50 more hours than the expected 1,025 hours of instruction time and can be flexible with their make-up time.  

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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