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After several snow days, Charlottesville looks to tweak school calendar

The recent spate of snow days for schools is no vacation for students as Charlottesville and Albemarle County districts are adjusting calendars in case more snow falls.

Charlottesville students will be in the classroom Feb. 21 and March 4, both of which were days off for students, following several snow days this month.

Charlottesville schools Superintendent Royal Gurley Jr. announced the change in an email to families this week. The change needs to be approved by the City School Board during a meeting next week.

Because of the winter weather and related disruptions, Charlottesville schools were closed for five days this month and delayed the start of school by two hours a few times.

Albemarle County school students were off for six days in January and had two-hour delays, but the division isn’t yet adding more in-person learning days for students. That could change.

“We began the school year with nine days in the bank, due to the length of our school day, which is one of the longest in the state,” division spokesman Phil Giaramita said. “We’re down today to just under two days. Given where we are on the winter calendar, it’s likely we will have some additional days during which schools will face delayed openings or closures.”

That winter calendar may see some more snow.

The National Weather Service is watching a weather pattern taking shape that could drop more snow on the area.

“Uncertainty remains in the all-important details,” meteorologists said on the weather service website, adding that there could be a lot of accumulation or a little accumulation. “The situation is still evolving, the storm has yet to form, and continued variability is likely in the expected snowfall amounts as finer scale details come into clearer focus over the next couple of days.”

The potential storm is following similar development patterns to the Jan. 3 and Jan 15 snowfalls that gave area students their snow days off.

To make up for those days, Charlottesville made Feb. 21 a school day. Last year the board converted President’s Day to a holiday, one of several changes aimed at addressing concerns about employees’ mental well-being.

The Charlottesville School Board added three more days off for students while the Albemarle board added five teacher work days to the calendar.

“We know that this year, making face-to-face connections and maximizing learning time is more important than ever,” Gurley wrote in the message to families.

Giaramita said the division has several options if schools face weather-related closures, including converting teacher work days in April and May, switching scheduled half-days to full days and extending the school day slightly.

The division also could consider whether a virtual option is possible, but that “would require a great deal of consulting, planning and preparation and may not be doable this year,” he said.

The least preferred option is extending the school year, he said.

“Much will depend upon the scope of the challenge, based on what actually happens between now and the end of the year,” Giaramita said.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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