Delano Schools to make up lost school days

Delano Public Schools has announced a plan for making up four school days that were lost due to extremely cold weather and wind chills in January, and so far Delano High School seniors are expected to graduate on schedule June 1.

The plan calls for students to attend classes on Presidents’ Day, Monday, Feb. 17, and on Friday, April 4, which originally was scheduled as a staff development day. Both days would have otherwise been vacation days for students, said Delano Schools spokesperson Traci Lawman. Last day of school for all students, except seniors, will be two days later than originally planned, with Thursday, June 5 marking the end of the 2013 – 2014 school year. Last day of school for seniors will not be affected.

“If inclement weather forces Delano Schools to lose more days of instruction, additional makeup days will be tacked onto the end of the school year,” Lawman said.

Superintendent of Schools Matt Schoen said that Delano Schools built a two-day cushion into its 2013 – 2014 school calendar in case classes were cancelled due to inclement weather. Vacation days for students on Presidents’ Day and the staff development day were that cushion.

Schoen said he and superintendents of surrounding school districts talk with each other about school closings, “These are difficult decisions,” he said. “We don’t take them lightly.”

He and other superintendents place student safety “first and foremost” — especially the safety of young children. “With minus 30 to 40 degree wind chills, it doesn’t take long for frost bite to settle in,” Schoen said.

He considers the amount of time students might spend waiting at a bus stop or walking to school. While most students live along bus routes, some live close enough to walk to school. Schoen estimated that the furthest students would walk would be about a half mile, and this distance poses a danger of frost bite.

After Schoen explains his decision making process to parents, “they understand,” he said. “If you as a parent think it is unsafe for your child to attend school, you can make that decision yourself, and we wouldn’t count it as an excused absence.”

However, this would be on a “very exceptional basis,” Schoen said.

Contact Susan Van Cleaf at susan.vancleaf@ecm-inc.com

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