SALT LAKE CITY — In the wake of recent severe winter storms that forced administrators in some Utah school districts to cancel classes, one State School Board member will ask the full board to consider granting affected districts one-time waivers of the state's school attendance rule.
School districts are required to conduct school a minimum of 180 days and 990 hours a year.
Given what District 1 board member Terryl Warner describes as recent "weather anomalies," she will ask the Utah State Board of Education on Friday to consider waivers to the requirement as long as school districts meet the 990-hour minimum standard.
"If they are hitting that 990 hours, should we give them a break on the days?" she asks.
Warner's district includes hard-hit Box Elder, Cache, and Morgan counties as well as parts of Weber and Summit counties. This year, even Park City schools closed for a day because school buses were unable to travel snow-covered secondary roads.
"I don't want schools to feel like they have to have school no matter what," Warner said.
With half the school year completed, some districts are pinched to come up with options for make-up days, although most build an emergency closure make-up day in their academic calendars.
Many families have already made travel plans for spring break, which precludes that option, she said.
In the case of Logan High School, remodeling projects have been scheduled for days contractors were told that students would be out of the building.
"To add extra days is going to be difficult," Warner said.
She was approached by school administrators, parents and teachers who asked her to bring the issue to the board.
"It's only a day or two but for some families, it could be pretty difficult," she said.
Warner hopes the board will be open to the waiver given the "extenuating situation."
There is precedent for waivers. In 2009, the Park City School District received a waiver for four days missed due to a flu outbreak.
However, students in the school district had far exceeded the 990-hour minimum when elementary schools had logged 1,026 instructional hours and middle and high schools at 1,060 hours, according to Deseret News archives.
Contributing: Brianna Bodily