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Students will make up lost week, but when?
Officials scramble to adjust calendar
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Forsyth County News

Call it a 10-day weekend.

When the school day ended Jan. 7, little did students in the Forsyth County school system know they wouldn't have to come back for more than a week.

At first the winter storm that arrived Sunday night forced the cancellation of school Monday. Then, when travel conditions remained treacherous, Tuesday was out.

Wednesday was next, at which point officials made the decision to call off classes for the rest of the week. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is this coming Monday.

So, now what?

In the wake of the dangerous road conditions that have kept students out of school for five days, district officials are looking through the school calendar to make up for lost time.

“We’re looking at five instructional days lost and work days we have to recover,” said Jennifer Caracciolo, spokeswoman for the system.

“We’re coming up with some options for consideration and then we’ll share that with our principals and get feedback prior to making decisions [next week]."

The 2010-11 school calendar included two inclement weather days for the year — Feb. 18 and April 26.

“We used to have more inclement weather days built into the calendars, but we removed them because we weren’t using them,” Caracciolo said.

“I’m sure that’s something we’ll be taking into consideration, because the calendar for next year is still in the draft process.”

The Feb. 18 day would lead into President’s Day weekend, which would give students the following Monday, Feb. 21, off for the holiday, and a student/staff holiday which gives off Feb. 22.

Working with those days is an option, as well as the other inclement weather day in April, which follows a professional development and parent conference day on April 25.

Another option is ending the school year a little later.

The school year is currently set to end on May 25. Because that’s a Wednesday, it would be simple to tack on another two days to make it a full week.

Many parents may be relieved to know that there's one option that appears untouchable.

“At this point, the system is looking at preserving the entire week of spring break,” said Superintendent Buster Evans. “But anything is on the table, including those three days in February, two days in April and the possibility of extending the school year.

“No definite decisions have been made, but even when a decision is made, it’s important the community realizes it could possibly change if we’re faced with more inclement weather.”

There are still some students who aren’t getting to take snow days. In fact, middle and high school students enrolled in the iAchieve online program are working overtime.

Students were supposed to have completed their second quarter Tuesday, but the week was extended until today, Caracciolo said.

“They’re trying to get all their course work done for the end of the semester,” she said.

For students who do want to continue learning, Angel is still available. The online learning resource, which connects teachers to students, allows students to chat with teachers to see if there
are any homework or reading assignments they can work on while stuck at home.

While some parents are able to take their children to school despite the poor road conditions, the system must account for the safety of all its children.

“Student safety is our No. 1 concern and as we begin to thaw out of this storm, we still have many, many roads that are not safe for school bus transport,” said Gary Puetz, director of transportation. “If we can not transport our students safely by bus, then we are unable to have school.”

Regardless of weather, students will not return to school Monday due to the King holiday. School will resume Tuesday.

Caracciolo said central office 12-month employees and school principals are to report to work by 9 a.m. Friday, conditions permitting.

These staff members should contact their immediate supervisor if they cannot report to work because of unsafe conditions, she said.

On Monday, all employees should report to work at their normal starting times.

Transportation employees will be contacted by their supervisors for specific guidance concerning their Monday work schedule, Caracciolo said.