Hurricane Matthew left behind more than flooded and washed roadways when it swept across North Carolina two weeks ago. Students in local school systems are left with making up missed days on what would have been part of holiday vacations.
According to information released by Clinton City Schools, students will now be attending school on the days that precede the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Students in Sampson County Schools, who missed eight full days due to the storm, have a little more luck on their side.
Monday, Oct. 31, which was originally scheduled to be a workday for Clinton City Schools staff, will now be a make-up day. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, will be a regular school day for students and staff. Students were originally supposed to be released early on Dec. 21, but that will now remain as a full instructional day and students will attend school on Dec. 22, the one day of winter break that has been affected. The final make-up day will be Jan. 7, 2017.
“The unexpected break due to Hurricane Matthew resulted in five days of instruction being lost,” Clinton City School superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount shared. “This most certainly has the potential to impact student learning. The greatest impact of this would be felt at the high school level. Our high school students will be taking final exams in mid-January and not making up the lost instructional days would place our students in an unfair situation with regard to final exam preparation.”
Rumors of the days being waived by the governor have spread across the mouths of many parents, but based on current North Carolina General Statute, the governor cannot waive any of the days lost due to Hurricane Matthew.
“We do appreciate the governor’s effort to encourage the General Assembly to review the impact that Hurricane Matthew had on schools,” Blount said. “However, there is no guarantee that the General Assembly will adjust the current law and when they would do so if they did.”
The school system, he added, could not wait until the General Assembly returns in January to take up the issue.
“Our decision to make up the instructional days missed, we believe, is in the best interest of students and their opportunity to be successful in their respective grade levels,” Blount added.
Sampson County Schools
During a Monday night meeting, the Sampson County Schools Board of Education similarly approved a revised calendar due to Hurricane Matthew and lost instructional time. The changes includes make-up days and additional instruction time.
According to school officials, three days of instructional time were banked into instructional time for cancelled school days. All of them will be used. Ten minutes of instructional time will be added to most schools starting Nov. 9 to allow for three more days of stored time.
Students will now have to attend school on Friday, Oct. 28, which was originally a workday for teachers, as well as Monday, Jan. 2, and Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Monday, Jan. 23, is now a mandatory workday for staff and the new end of the semester is Friday, Jan. 20.
School officials also made a decision to cancel staff development and early release days for Thursday, Nov. 3; Wednesday, Feb. 1; and Thursday, April 4. These days will now become full student days. Curriculum officials will work on a plan to deliver staff development at another time.
Teachers are required to work 215 days and workdays and June 14, 15, 16 and 19 have been added for this purpose.
SCS board member Tim Register also addressed the matter regarding the governor’s executive order to forgive make-up days.
“While his intent may have been good, that really places the school boards, parents and teachers in a difficult position,” Register said. “Because the fact of the matter is that the Legislature will not come back into session until January.”
With the election approaching, Register emphasized that future leadership in Raleigh is unknown for next year.
“We don’t know what the Legislature will look like then and we have no guarantee that the Legislature will excuse the day,” Register said.
Rather than wait, Register and other board members thought it would be important to support Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy and the staff’s recommendation.
“I think we’re being proactive instead of reactive,” Register said about making up time.
The board was also concerned about trying to get time made up for high school students, who have to take end-of-grade tests at the conclusion of the semester. Inclement weather in the winter was also addressed by school officials.
“There is also no certainty (about) what the winter months will bring and the board commended the staff for going ahead and taking action to fix the issue now,” school officials stated in a memo to SCS employees.