Prince George’s snow day school closings begin to chip into summer break -- Gazette.Net


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Prince George’s County students may have enjoyed an extra long weekend thanks to the snow storm Feb. 13, but the school closing that day may have to be made up in June.

With Feb. 14 being reserved for parent-teacher conferences and Monday being the Presidents’ Day holiday, county public schools students were able to enjoy a five-day weekend.

The school system had four inclement weather days built into its academic calendar, but Feb. 13 marked the fifth time school had to be canceled due to inclement weather this school year. School had also been canceled Dec. 10, Jan. 3, Jan. 21 and Jan. 22.

Under Maryland law, school is mandated to be in session for at least 180 days, but the state can grant waivers for school systems that have experienced significant weather-related cancellations during the school year.

“The superintendent, or CEO in our case, would have to request a waiver from the state,” school system spokesman Max Pugh said. “We’re going to wait and see how the weather turns out before we decide whether or not to seek a waiver.”

The four built-in inclement weather makeup days run Monday through Thursday, June 9 through June 12. A fifth makeup weather day would likely make June 13 the last day of school.

“If we start to get into six or seven days, it does begin to create issues for parents,” said Earnest Moore, Prince George’s County PTA Council president, mentioning the impact on summer plans.

“A lot of camps have to be paid for before the school year ends,” Moore said. “Some parents may have to decide whether or not to take their kids out of school early.”

Moore said it can also pose problems for student employment.

Employers who rely on large numbers of student workers in the summer, such as Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, may have difficulty finding workers when the school year is extended.

“Some students may have to work part-time while they finish the school year,” Moore said.

Kenneth Haines, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, said the disruption in the class routine can create problems for teachers.

“Whenever you have broken routines, you do have some disciplinary issues,” Haines said.

The Maryland School Assessments in reading and mathematics are scheduled to be administered during the first two weeks of March, but Haines said recent studies have shown that snow days do not create any significant loss in performance.

T. Carter Ross of Hyattsville, parent of two Hyattsville Elementary students, said his family is waiting to see what the school system will do before finalizing summer plans.

“We’re early enough out that we’ve just started planning summer camps and things, so there’s nothing that’s being broken yet. Hopefully the Board of Education will set out a plan sooner rather than later and offer clarity as to what the impact will be,” Ross said.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net