Snow days

Winter weather leads to hit and miss school attendance
By Shelby Harrell and DeeAnna Haney | Feb 11, 2014

There were some students cheering and some jeering about the early dismissal at Tuscola High School and Waynesville Middle School on Monday morning.

When classes dismissed at 10 a.m. Monday, students were already at school, so the day counts as a full day. That means there have been seven days missed days so far this school year — not enough to delay the school ending date just yet.

However, the winter storm predicted to arrive Wednesday and not let up until Thursday could mean more missed days this week, and even spark Saturday classes.

Hunter James, a Tuscola 10th-grader, said getting out of school early is still fun, even though it sometimes means making it up on the weekends.

"I'd rather have school on Saturdays because the more Saturday school we have means the less we have to make up in the summer," he said.

Sisters Laesey and Lyndsey Davis, both 10th-graders, stood under the covered walkway waiting for their ride.

"I don't really like snow days anymore," Laesey Davis said. "They still make us do work during Saturday school, we just have shorter classes."

Her twin sister agreed, adding that even with makeup days, if snow days continue, she's not sure if they will get all their work done.

Josh Williams, also a 10th grader, said while he still enjoys getting out of school early, he would rather take his chances on a snow day rather than going to Saturday school.

"I would rather just have a regular school day," he said.

Meanwhile at Waynesville Middle, students were bustling down the sidewalks in a hurry to get in their parent's cars or the school buses.

Despite having to come to Waynesville Middle for two hours and then leave, the heavy snowfall didn't dampen to seventh-grader Chris Perez's mood one bit.

"I think it's fantastic that I get to go home," Perez said just after hanging up the phone from calling his parents. "I'm ecstatic because I'm getting out of ISS. I may go hunting."

Seventh-grader Carla Rose shared Perez's enthusiasm for the shorter day, but admitted that the extra homework was a challenge.

"I like it when we go home early," Rose said. "I usually get to sit around the house and chill or go outside and play. But it's a little hard when you have a lot to do. In my classes I don't have a lot of homework but it's still hard."

Annette Husson, a school counselor at WMS, said the early releases were frustrating for teachers.

"It's always a challenge when schools are interrupted by weather, but we can't help it," Husson said. "It's frustrating because the kids are here and ready and then all this comes down. But the main thing is we want the kids to be safe."

But teachers at WMS didn't let the weather disrupt their teaching for the week. Sixth-grade teacher Robin Walker said all the core curriculum teachers met with their students Monday morning to go over their plans for the week.

Students were instructed to review the material they had already learned, and teachers emphasized the importance of studying independently.

"The first thing we did was we reminded students that this was not a called holiday," Walker said. "These are still schools days and they can still learn at home. We were able to give students materials so that they can be self guided and those activities will help reinforce the concepts and the skills that they've already been practicing in the class."

Fortunately, school delays and closings also delay the standardized testing at the end of the year, so students and teachers don't have to worry about missing days, Walker said. But to not waste valuable class time, Walker encourages parents to try to keep students focused on their studies during the snowy weather.

"Parents can see that they're doing chores, routining, and they can ask the students to show them their independent work," Walker said. "They can always ask about their school activities and continue to enforce them and ask questions."

At the end of day, Walker also encouraged the students to enjoy time with their families.

"If snow comes, make it enjoyable," Walker said. "Enjoy the family time because June is looking longer now."