By Wayne Rush
It is clear that being in school is important to students’ success. Students that have chronic absenteeism perform much poorer than students that attend school on a regular basis.
What happens when all of the students have missed 6 days (7 in Sweet and Ola) like the Emmett School District? We are often asked how many days we can miss before we have to them make up. There are two answers to this question. First, the minimum numbers of hours required by the State of Idaho and second, what do we need in order to provide a high quality education to our students.
The state of Idaho requires a minimum number of hours for grade levels to be in school each year. These hours only count actual time in the classroom and do not include passing time, lunch, or recess.
When the Emmett School District sets our calendars for the year we do not include any days for emergency closures (snow days). We do include more hours than required by the State so that teachers have enough time to provide our students with the curriculum. So, technically, we do not have to make up snow days until we go under the minimum required.
However, for the Emmett School District the issue is about teaching and learning. We know that more time in the classroom helps students learn more. On our trimester system, it becomes even more critical when we get to the high school’s courses. Missing 6 days is a significant amount of time to take out of a 53 day trimester as students work towards earning high school credit and dual credit from colleges.
On January 16th we made up one day. With the additional closures on January 18th and 19th we will have to make up 2 more days just to meet the state required minimum hours for our 4th and 5th grade students. Because each school’s schedules are a little different, the number of hours students are in class varies throughout the district.
Over the next few days teachers and administrators will be reviewing our schedules and curriculum to determine how many days we need to recover. We will then be looking at what days are available that will provide the best education with the least impact on the plans of families and staff. It is important that our students’ education is not negatively impacted by this unprecedented number of days we have had to close schools. We will notify everyone of the changes to the schools calendars as soon as they are finalized.