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Snow days delay testing

Ben Hatton, 19, left, and his twin sister Allyson, both of Stephens City, slide down the hillside outside Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy in Stephens City on Thursday. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Ryan Cornell

Students in public schools around the area might have enjoyed their time off this week, but they'll have to make up for it later this year.

According to the Code of Virginia, public schools are required to teach for either 180 days or 990 hours of instruction. Schools that miss five days due to weather conditions are required to add teaching days or extend the length of the school day to meet the minimum. After missing five days, which area school divisions have passed, they are required to make up one day for every additional two days missed.

Shenandoah County Public Schools have recorded eight snow days and three two-hour delays so far this year.

Zero days allotted for inclement weather are built into the division's calendar, which superintendent Jeremy Raley said hasn't changed from previous years.

He said the end of the semester was supposed to be on Friday, but he's had to extend it a week due to the closings. The Standards of Learning and end-of-semester tests originally scheduled for this past week have been shifted to next week as well.

"Each day we miss is a valuable instructional day," said Raley. "It's difficult to get those days back."

The school division covers more than 500 square miles of geography, much of which are back roads still glazed with ice.

Warren County Public Schools have four built-in weather days, but have already had 10 of those days.

Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent for administration, said public schools in Warren County exceeded the 990-hour minimum and can use their extra hours as make-up time.

Although as a result of the closings, students will have less time to prepare for their SOL tests next week.

"So there really is no good time to miss because of snow days or weather-related days," said Sheppard.

Like its southern neighbor, Frederick County Public Schools have had eight missed days.

Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications, said the division's 185-day school calendar allows for five snow days.

Even though public school students in Frederick County stayed home this whole week, Edwards said they were only scheduled to come in on Thursday and Friday.

He said it takes a while for students to get caught up with their work after any extended break, whether planned or not.

"When students return to class, there's a certain amount of review that's necessary," said Edwards. "The more time we miss, the more time we have to spend reviewing material that's already been covered."

As winter is far from over, the school administrators said there aren't any designated days planned as make-up days yet. Any adjustment to the school schedules would be reviewed by the school board at a future meeting, they said.

"We're looking forward to having the students return and I'm sure the parents are looking forward to it too," Edwards said.

Friday school closings

  • Public schools in Shenandoah County, Frederick County and Clarke County will be closed
  • Winchester Public Schools will operate on a two-hour delay
  • Warren County public schools were already closed due to a scheduled professional day

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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