Cherokee School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said this school year the district has already had to cancel eight instructional days because of inclement weather.
“CCSD schools have been closed two days for Polar Vortex, three days for Snow Jam and three days, as of Thursday, for the current storm,” Jacoby explained Thursday.
Georgia allows districts to lose four instructional days because of inclement weather without the need to make up days, and then it’s up to the district to schedule make-up time for other lost days.
Jacoby said the state might decide not to count some of the lost instructional days, since many occurred during the state of emergency periods Gov. Nathan Deal declared.
“The state may not count the Snow Jam days — a resolution is to be presented this month by the State Department of Education to the State Board of Education,” Jacoby said.
If the state board passes the resolution, the three days of school that Cherokee students missed from Jan. 28 to 30, would not be counted toward the four inclement weather days, Jacoby said.
That would leave the Cherokee School District with five missed instructional days, but Jacoby said there might also be a possibility of this week’s storm being pardoned by the state, too.
There is currently no resolution in front of the State Board of Education about the storm that shut down schools for three days this week, since the storm is still underway, Jacoby said. The storm in January and the storm this week both led the governor to declare state of emergencies.
“Until the state tells local systems whether it will count these days, local systems like CCSD don’t know how many — if any — days they have missed beyond permitted four, and, as a result, how many must be made up,” Jacoby said. “If the state says CCSD has to make up days, this time can be made up through additional minutes added to existing school days or through the addition of extra school days.”
If schools do have to make up for lost instructional days, Jacoby said there is no perfect option.
“Neither option for making up time is without potentially negative impacts,” Jacoby said. “Additional minutes could negatively impact students who have obligations immediately after the current school day ends (i.e., extracurricular activities, after school jobs); additional days could negatively impact students and staff who have made travel plans immediately after the current school year ends.”
As soon as the state makes a determination, local districts across Georgia, including Cherokee County School District, will be able to decide on the next step and share the information with parents, Jacoby said.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo thanked parents, staff and the community for their patience during the winter storm this week.
“We know that school closings mean students are without instructional time, and we greatly appreciate our teachers who are developing ways that parents can assist their children with continued learning at home,” Petruzielo said Thursday. “We know that school closings mean parents who must work during inclement weather have to seek childcare for their young children, which can be a stressful challenge. We’re in the education business, but in any business, safety must come first.”
Petruzielo also noted that many district students live in homes that aren’t as warm and stocked with food as some are, and asked the community to keep students in their thoughts and prayers.
Jacoby said the district fared well through the storm this week, seeing few facility damages.
“There was a water leak from a pipe in the ground on the Macedonia Elementary School campus on Monday, but it didn’t affect the school,” she said. “And we had a couple awning on portables at Woodstock Elementary School knocked loose by snow.”