Severe winter weather has forced schools across Indiana to cancel classes numerous times, leaving the question of if that time would need to be made up. Thursday, the Indiana Department of Education released a plan offering schools options to makeup snow days.
According to the department, the required makeup obligation would have to meet the definition of a full instructional day: five hours for grades 1 through 6, and six hours for grades 7 through 12.
“This year’s storms have been extreme and have interrupted instruction for schools throughout the state. I have spoken with countless superintendents throughout the state and they have all asked for more flexibility for scheduling instructional time. I have heard their concerns, and I am happy to make these options available to our schools,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a statement.
Non-waiver options for lost instructional time include calendar changes and additional full days, such as school on Saturdays or adding days at the end of the established school calendar. Conditional waiver options would consist of making up lost instructional days by adding additional time to each day. For example, instead of having a six-hour instructional day for a high school, an hour would be added to the day to minimize the amount of extra days students would have to attend after the regular school calendar year.
“The goal here is to give as much flexibility and as many options as we can to schools,” said Daniel Altman, press secretary for the Indiana Department of Education. “We think that these decisions are best made at the local level and we want to make sure that they have as many options available as we can give them.”
Schools have until June 30 to file for conditional waiver options. They would also have to provide evidence of school board approval demonstrating that the total amount of time added to instructional days is equal to the number of instructional days requested to be waived through the application.
The guidelines apply only to public school corporations. Schools with any unexcused lost instructional days would be subject to a financial penalty. The new snow day options go into effect immediately.
Antonio Cordero is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.