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School districts might not have to make up missed winter storm days

Highland Lakes public school students might not have to make up the week of classes they missed due to the recent winter storm.

“We are allowed to submit a waiver for those days, and (the Texas Education Agency) would have to approve or deny those waivers,” said Dr. Chris Allen, superintendent of the Marble Falls Independent School District. “Sometimes, (the TEA will) modify the waiver, but we believe that, because of the severity of the winter storm and the issues it caused, they’ll likely grant those waivers as requested.”

The state agency might direct public school districts to use one of their pre-determined bad weather days to make up a day lost during the storm. 

Burnet Consolidated ISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett said the board of trustees is holding a special meeting March 1 and could possibly approve applying for a waiver for the missed school days of Feb. 16-19. Feb. 15, Presidents’ Day, was a school holiday.

“With the approval of the missed school day waiver, and in conjunction with the extra instructional minutes that were designed into the district’s calendar, students won’t be required to make up any of the missed weather days (from the recent storm),” McBurnett said.

The state of Texas uses minutes versus days to measure students’ instructional class time. 

Allen said MFISD also includes bad weather days in its academic calendar. He pointed out that those days are often strategically placed during long periods between typical breaks or holidays. If the days aren’t needed to make up bad weather, students and staff get a respite. 

Both Allen and McBurnett expressed gratitude to the state for considering the waivers. 

“In a year of stress due to COVID and now the winter storm, if we can maintain our current academic calendar without any disruptions or changes, I would call that a blessing,” Allen said.

McBurnett agreed.

“Given the many challenges of this school year related to COVID, I was glad to have the flexibility offered by the missed school day waiver so that we could maintain our school calendar as it was adopted and not ask families to make any changes this spring,” he said.

Along with the waiver, McBurnett said BCISD administration will ask the board during its March 1 meeting to approve a resolution authorizing paying district staff not able to work during the storm and school closure. This would ensure all BCISD employees could keep their current work schedule without making any changes the rest of the year, he added.

daniel@thepicayune.com