|Watauga Schools Release Statement on Schedule|
|Written by Marshall Ashcraft|
|Thursday, 13 January 2011 08:18|
It’s winter in the high country, and that means changes in the school calendar and challenges regarding the operation of the Watauga County Schools.
As of Wednesday, January 12, 2011, students have missed thirteen days due to inclement weather. Weather permitting, schools will be open Saturday, January 15 and Monday, January 17 to make up two missed days. Saturday will be an early release day, with kindergarten through eighth classes dismissed at 12:00 and the high school at 1:00. Pre-kindergarten classes are not held on Saturday.
Monday, January 17 will be a regular school day. The teacher workday scheduled for that date has been postponed until Saturday, January 22.
The student days on January 15 and 17 will leave 11 missed days to be made up. This is not a rare situation for schools to face in a Watauga County winter. There have been eight years when Watauga Schools have missed more than ten days before February 1, including last year, which was the worst winter in many, many years.
Although concerns can arise about the impact of school closings on students’ education, experience has shown that local schools are able to cope effectively with schedule changes due to winter weather. Despite missing 26 days in 2009-10, students in the WCS system posted some of the best achievement results ever and continued to outperform their peers across the state. Local teachers are used to providing students with opportunities to keep in-practice when they are at home during snow days. “Snow packets” in the lower grades, other assignments in higher grades, and technological resources such as the School Fusion website can be employed to help students with review.
Superintendent Dr. Marty Hemric noted that “Our teachers are simply the best at reviewing and introducing new material, and keeping students on target in the curriculum during the winter months in Watauga. We are confident that the winter-time interruptions in our schedule will have a minimal impact on the quality of education provided to the youth in our county. The bottom-line on learning is that schools will make up the instructional time and strategies are in place to address continuity in learning while students are away from school over prolonged periods of time.”
“We feel for our parents during these times,” Dr. Hemric continued. “The interruptions in school schedules cause challenges with work schedules because of child care issues. We all look forward to the return of clearing skies and a pattern of life that is closer to normal.”
“I and our transportation team will continue to use every possible measure, such as delayed openings and alternative bus routes, to return students to school when it is safe to do so” said Dr. Hemric. “We have a very experienced team monitoring road conditions and removing snow and ice from our parking areas and sidewalks. The past two winters have been very taxing on our maintenance, custodial, and transportation teams, but they have been superior in preparing our schools for a return of students after winter events.” Dr. Hemric also praised DOT workers in Watauga for their tireless and effective efforts in keeping up with storms.
For a long term perspective on the impact of winter weather on the school calendar, a 35 year history of school closings for inclement weather is available under the calendar tab of the WCS homepage at www.watauga.k12.nc.us. The make up plan for 2010-11 is also available under the calendar tab. The make up plan can be altered by the superintendent when opportunities are identified to recover days by opening schools on Saturday or by moving a teacher workday to a Saturday or school holiday.
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