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With over two weeks of unexpected snow days this semester, teachers and administrators are scrambling to catch up with the curriculum
February 19, 2019
The number of snow days this semester has been unpredictable and the plethora of days away does not come without consequence.
Each year the state allots six days to districts for weather related days off with the potential for three more. However, we have had 11 days off this semester.
People ask if Grand Haven Area Public Schools (GHAPS) will add extra days to the calendar in June to make up for some of this time, others wonder if minutes will be added to each day like GHAPS did during the 2012-13 school year. According to GHAPS Superintendent Andrew Ingall there is a high probability GHAPS will seek to add days.
“We’re going to try not to make a decision too quick or too fast,” Ingall said. “Certainly by spring break we can make a decision and do an announcement on what requirements we’ll have in terms of possible make-up days.”
One question that needs to be answered is whether or not the Michigan legislature will grant forgiveness for additional days beyond the nine already provided. On Jan. 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency citing “extremely cold weather” and “record or near-record low temperatures”. However, even though there was a state of emergency declared, schools are not necessarily awarded those days as extra for forgiveness.
One thing that is certain is the fact that the snow days are forcing just about everybody to change plans. Change to the curriculum taught throughout the district. Principal Tracy Wilson said teachers are creating their own plans for getting through the curriculum.
“My communication to our staff, in general, has been to have some collaborative conversations with those who are teaching the same curriculum,” Wilson said. “I’m encouraging teachers to hang onto those pieces that are critical and essential, and any of that extra stuff, unfortunately, probably will be let go of.”
If the district does decide to add days back to the calendar of course it would be easier on teachers to accomplish more curriculum, but the families of GHAPS will most likely be waiting until spring break for that answer.
Science teacher Daniel Newton plans his curriculum for his chemistry classes with co teacher Chelsea Bender, and has said they’ve already made a plan for adapting.
“We’re looking for things that took us multiple days last year, and trying to condense,” Newton said. “These kinds of cuts are going to have to happen if we want to be able to get as far as we were hoping, but as educators, we do have to make these choices of what’s key and really important, and what would be okay if we didn’t get to.
While more days in June would relieve stress on some teachers, there are still others who would not benefit from those days. AP teachers have their tests on May 6-16, and those dates are non-negotiable because they are set by the College Board.
AP English Language and Composition teacher Holly Michelli admitted she is feeling a bit more stress as of late having lost 11 days she cannot get back for her advanced classes.
She added that because students enrolled in AP classes are most likely the advanced students, they’re just going to have to work outside of the class more often on some of their work and/or projects.
“We won’t be able to include some of those let’s say fun things,” Michelli said. “Shortening some of our big projects and units is what we’re going to have to do up through the AP test.”