School closures could mean extra days for district students
After five school cancellations, here’s the forecast in District 833:
There is a strong chance an extra day of school will be added to the calendar, with the possibility of additional days if South Washington County Schools is forced to close again due to bad weather.
With two school closures this week, District 833 exceeded its limit on the number of days that can be called off without dipping below the required hours secondary students must be in school, Superintendent Keith Jacobus said.
The School Board likely will decide next month when to add a day of class between now and the end of the year, said Barb Brown, the district’s communications director.
The extra day -- or days, if there are more cancellations -- could come at the end of the year, or on a day when school was not scheduled, such as a teacher workshop day or spring break.
Like many other schools, District 833 cancelled classes on Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 27-28, due to cold temperatures and frigid wind chills. The first three cancellations, also due to cold weather, were Jan. 6, 7 and 23.
Student safety is the first priority when deciding whether to close, Jacobus said.
“If we can get kids to school safely … then I want to keep schools open,” he said last week.
Even if school remains open, parents can keep their kids at home if they are concerned about the weather, Jacobus noted. Those would be excused absences.
District 833 has no formal guidelines for when schools should be closed. However, last week Jacobus and other Twin Cities area superintendents agreed to all use the National Weather Service forecast and that a temperature of 20 below zero or a wind chill of 40 below zero could be factors when determining future closures.
Jacobus said he has received messages from parents urging for closures. Yet when the district closes, he added, many parents cannot go to work.
“It’s been a difficult winter, it’s been difficult to make these decisions,” Jacobus said recently.
If there are additional closures yet this year, the district is required by contract to consult with its teachers union when adding days.