Spring Break wiped out due to snow days

by Kate Shunney

The five days of Spring Break built into the Morgan County Schools calendar in April have been cut back to one day off. Students will now go to school from Monday, April 15 through Thursday, April 19. Students will still have off Good Friday and Easter Monday. School board members made the decision at their March 5 meeting.

Students have so far been out of school for 12 days this academic year. School was closed for 10 snow days, one day of a teacher strike and a national day of mourning to honor George H.W. Bush.

In addition to shifting almost all of Spring Break back into instructional days, school officials also added June 3-7 to the end of the school year. Those days were already marked on the official school calendar as Outside School Environment days that could be used as makeup days.

The last day of school for Morgan County students is now Friday, June 7.

Superintendent Erich May, who recommended the calendar changes, said he cut back on makeup days by having employees report to work on one of the snow days. and counting that toward accrued instructional time. State law requires students to have 180 days of instruction each academic year.

Next year’s calendar

School officials also heard comments about the 2019-2020 academic calendar. They will adopt it at their March 19 meeting.

School Treasurer Ann Bell outlined the calendar, which she said very closely coordinates with the Berkeley County schedule due to James Rumsey students.

Under the proposed calendar, school would start for students on August 19, 2019 and end on May 28, 2020. Winter break would run from December 23 to January 2. A five-day Spring Break is built into the calendar during the week before Easter. Traditionally, the break comes after Easter, but West Virginia seniors will take their college board exams on April 14, 2020, so school has to be in session then.

Rebecca Herdering, the school’s music teacher, said she thinks the school calendar should build in snow days.

“If we need them, they’re there. If didn’t use them, we got out of school early,” she said.

Herdering also suggested starting the new school year mid-week so that student don’t have a full week of school on the heels of summer. She said that full week is especially hard on younger students, like Kindergarteners.

“It would help with the little ones adjusting from a summer of freedom to seven hours of school for five days,” she said.

Herdering urged school board officials to consider using “Reimagine” days in the calendar. The county would have to get approval for the days, which could count snow days as instructional days if teachers provided study packets or links to learning websites for students to work on at home. Board members showed interest in learning more about that initiative.

Bell said a parent asked board members to get rid of the President’s Day holiday and having shorter Thanksgiving and Spring breaks so that students could finish the school year earlier.

Bell said a comment from bus drivers was that Thanksgiving break could be shorter because not as many bus drivers hunt that week for buck season.

Adoption of the 2019-2020 school calendar will be on the agenda for the March 19 school board meeting.