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Fairfax County Public Schools Working On Makeup Plan For Last Snow Day

by Karen Goff | March 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 1,488 views | 9 Comments

fcps logoFairfax County Public School students will already be in school until June 24 in order to make up snow days.

But the FCPS calendar only builds in makeup plans for 10 snow days, so that is as far as the calendar goes for now.

The winter of 2013-14 will go in the books as the snowiest winter since the 2009-10 “Snowmageddeon,” which shut down the system for more than a week straight.

Monday’s 11-inch storm — a rarity for Northern Virginia in March — was No. 11 for FCPS students this year.

Virginia law requires public schools to provide at least 180 days or 990 hours of instructional time annually. But it also allows the state Board of Education to waive the requirement if districts shut down in the aftermath of a state of emergency declared by the governor. A state of emergency has been declared twice this winter, including during the snow storm on March 3.

FCPS was last granted a waiver from the requirement in 2010 following the nearly two feet of snow that fell in back-to-back February storms.  The district needed to schedule five make-up days, but only found time for four in the spring calendar. The board waived the requirement for the fifth make up day.

FCPS spokesman John Torre said the system is looking at a variety of options but no decisions have been made.

“Several options could be considered including adding another day at the end of the year, adding minutes to the school day or seeking a waiver from the state,” he said.  “No decision has been made yet as to which option will be pursued.”

Students will also attend school on April 7, which was a previously scheduled teacher workday. It will be a full day for elementary students, who otherwise usually have early release on Mondays.

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  • Kathleen Gannon Tye

    It would not seem in the students best interests to extend the school year, when the EOC tests (SOLs) will be completed. Teachers need the time before the test to prepare the students, so it makes more sense to extend the school day before the testing window. In fact, wouldn’t it make sense for FCPS to add a few minutes (5-10) to the school day as a general rule going forward, and then there wouldn’t be a problem with make-up days until about the 8th or 9th snow day?

  • Virginia Fitz Shea

    Whether or not Fairfax decides to add full-day Mondays to the elementary schools for the remainder of this year, the school board should eliminate the Monday early dismissal policy next year. Dismissing all elementary schools 2 ½ hours or 2 hours early every Monday makes the entire schedule fragmented an inadequate. The students are in school for 30 hours and 50 minutes per week. This
    would be the equivalent of six hours and 10 minutes per day if it were
    evenly distributed each day. Fairfax provide a uniform elementary school
    day of at least six hours and 40 minutes Monday through Friday.
    The current schedule for the elementary schools does not provide
    sufficient time to allow any more than 10 minutes a day for recess while
    also meeting the requirements in the Standards of Accreditation for the
    standard school day. Clearly Fairfax needs to provide more time in the week for the elementary school students. Fairfax needs to stop Monday early dismissals. A petition was recently launched on Change.org to ask the Fairfax County School Board to stop Monday early dismissals and provide more time for recess. Here is the link to the petition: http://chn.ge/1dZn61Z

    • tieyourselftome

      Students are at recess for 20-25 minutes a day, even when it is inside recess. Quite frequently the students are out for 30-45 minutes on Fridays.

      • Michael J. Hudson

        If students ARE at recess for more than 10 minute a day, then the schools ARE NOT meeting the requirements set forth in the state’s Standards of Accreditation for the standard school day. That, I think, is the point. I don’t think anyone wants our kids having ONLY 10 minutes of recess, and I totally believe that most schools are probably giving them more than 10 minutes of recess. However, that ALSO means that they are cutting into MANDATED instructional time. So, to actually meet the Standards of Accreditation, we need to either increase the amount of time students go to school each day AND/OR we get rid of half-day Mondays.

  • Michael J. Hudson

    Don’t forget that there have been EIGHT days where FCPS has opened two
    hours late and it seems they don’t have to make up that time either.
    The day before Thanksgiving they also closed two hours early. So, in
    total (assuming 6 hour school days), the kids have lost an additional
    THREE days they aren’t making up. Add to this, the early dismissals on
    Mondays for ALL FCPS elementary schools. This is ridiculous! This
    time NEEDS to be made up and early dismissals on Mondays need to end!
    And school ISN’T or SHOULDN’T be about completing SOLs, its about
    educating our kids. You can still educate them AFTER the SOLs are
    done. I think it makes the most sense to go ahead and extend the
    school year to at least the 27th of June. I don’t think adding time to
    the end of the days is effective since I do not think it will be used
    as well as FULL days of instructional time.

    Either which way, I
    think the petition at Change.org that Virginia Shea has written up is
    excellent and I recommend strongly that everyone who cares about public
    education in Fairfax County sign it! http://chn.ge/1dZn61Z

    • tieyourselftome

      You are not taking into account the fact that elementary school teachers are not provided with a free period and have no time to lesson plan during the day. In addition, these half Mondays are used for teachers to attend professional development, which is extremely important if you care at all about education.

      Many students have reported that they will not be attending school after the SOLs are complete. This is not the county deciding the students do not deserve to be taught- this is their parents giving them an early summer.

      • Michael J. Hudson

        How is it that almost every other school district has figured out how to give planning time to elementary school teachers, but Fairfax has not? I tell friends living in other counties about how Fairfax elementary schools work, and they look dumbfounded? There have been several proposals over the last decade or so to deal with adding more time for teacher planning, but it seems to have all gone for naught. The simplest solution is to use resource teachers more so as to give the main classroom teachers more time for planning. I’m not quite sure why some level of planning can’t be done during current times in the school day where resource teachers are used. In addition, I have heard that Monday afternoons often get used for more bureaucratic policy meetings rather than real professional development. I absolutely want our teachers to increase their professional development. But again, I’m sure this happens with elementary school teachers in other counties as well as middle and high school teachers in OUR county. Is there not any extra time during the day to facilitate this? And as we prioritize how the money in our school budgets get used, can we not see that prioritizing it for a fuller and complete school day is at the top of the list? And so, if it takes extra money to give teachers that extra time to do planning and professional development, then let’s do it!

        • Michael Baber

          They don’t do anything the last few days anyway! Waste of taxpayer dollars!!!

  • Michael Baber

    I say waive the last 2 days added on to the end of school. They don’t do anything the last couple says anyway and it’s a waste of tax payer dollars. Not to mention how much it would cost the county extending the 2 days at the end! I mean all the testing is done and their is no teaching… It’s just saying bye to friends for summer. This is such a waste of the county budget!!!

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