Everybody loves a good snow day, especially as a kid. You can stay out for hours playing in the snow and since you’re a child, the cold doesn’t really bother you. Then you get to go inside where somebody might have a hot lunch waiting for you. While you eat you can get your clothes warm and dry in the dryer, all so you can go back out and do it all again. However, everybody knows the downside of these fun days playing in the snow instead of being in school is having to make them up in June. Thankfully we have two new laws to fix this burdensome reality of making up snow days.
The first law went into effect this school year (19-20). Districts are no longer required to have a school year of at least 174 days in length, but must simply meet an hours requirement, which sits at 1,044. When you “miss too many days” via inclement weather and need to make up pupil attendance time, the school now has a variety of options because we’re making up hours, and not full days.
- The school can choose to add an additional day to the school year.
- They could also add time to existing school days to slowly make up instructional time over the year, thus preventing the need for additional days at the end. Time can be added before or after the existing day, however the school sees fit.
- Schools on a four day week can add a 5th day in order to make up hours.
Further, as it has been in the past, the law provides reduced requirements should a large number of days be missed due to weather. Districts are required to make up no more than 60 hours of lost instructional time. If schools have already hit their DESE requirement of 1,044 hours for the year, they don’t have to make up any days lost. If a district misses an extreme amount of pupil attendance hours, they can request a waiver from the commissioner of education.
The second helpful law will become effective next school year (20-21). It allows schools to create DESE approved “alternative methods of instruction” to make up time lost in the classroom due to events outside of the district’s control including inclement weather, a utility outage, or an outbreak of a contagious disease. Under this law, schools can have a plan in place for instruction for students when school would otherwise be canceled. By completing the lessons at home, with access to teacher-student interaction, the school isn’t required to make up the missed time.
Both of these laws give school districts flexibility, so we will have to see how these rules are utilized over the next few years. For questions regarding these laws or other laws related to your employment with the school district, please contact the MSTA Legal Services Department by phone at 866-343-6186 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.