The bill for all the school days canceled due to snow and, in one case, the cold, has come due, and students and staff at Catholic schools in the diocese will be paying with some previously scheduled vacation.
Louis DeAngelo, superintendent of Catholic schools, said schools will have to make up a maximum of six snow days, a number many schools had already reached after two more days were lost to inclement weather on Feb. 13 and 14.
The diocese, which sets policy for diocesan and parochial schools, is leaving the details up to individual schools.
Some principals decided to hold classes on Presidents’ Day. Most have eliminated an in-service day that was set for March 17, while others are now having class on Holy Thursday.
In some cases, the Easter break is being shortened, and classes are being added close to final-exam time.
“It doesn’t matter how they get there,” DeAngelo said last week.
The schools tried to make the process as painless as possible, but there was little flexibility given the number of days missed. Padua Academy notified its families last week that four days had been added to the school calendar; St. Elizabeth High School added two. Those numbers increased after recent cancellations.
In addition to March 17 and Holy Thursday, Padua also will now be in session on April 24 and 25, and St. Elizabeth could still turn April 23-25 from Easter break into class time. Padua is likely to hold classes May 30 and June 9 to make up the latest two lost days. Elementary schools are scheduled to end on a Wednesday, but they could stay until that Friday.
There was no thought to adding time to each school day, as some public school districts are doing, DeAngelo said.
He said the diocese is aware that families plan vacations for Easter break, but there’s not enough flexibility in the schedule for every school to avoid cutting into that time. Students or staff who miss class time will have to take care of missed work “as we would do if a student or a teacher were absent,” he said.
The state requires kindergarten students to receive 440 hours of instruction. All other grades are mandated 1,060 hours except seniors, who must get 1,032.
In Maryland, home to Ss. Peter and Paul High School and six elementary schools, students must attend 180 days a year.
Mount Aviat Academy was one of the schools that was in session on Presidents’ Day. Spokeswoman Charlene Nichols said the school has already made up some lost time.
“School was in session all day on Martin Luther King Day. … In addition, our faculty retreat was canceled so that school could be in session for a full day on Jan. 30, instead of a half day, and on Jan. 31 (originally a full day off for the retreat as well),” she wrote in an email.
At Nativity Prep in Wilmington, professional development days in March and May were canceled, said principal David Kubacki, and the two-week Easter break has been cut by two days. Kubacki said the staff has discussed lengthening the day, but no final decision has been made.
The snow has thrown the elementary school calendar awry in another way, DeAngelo said. The schools operate on a trimester system, and this one has been completely disrupted.
“It makes it very hard for the continuity of instruction,” he said.
No matter how they decide to make up the time, the superintendent said, it is critical that they keep parents in the loop. “Every school has created a plan to accommodate for the weather days. That plan should have been communicated to the parents.”
There is some good news for students. The six days to make up mandated by the diocese is the maximum they will ask schools to reschedule.