I have just returned from a meeting at the Woodbridge Emergency Operations Center. The good news is that all roads in Woodbridge are passable for school busses. School will resume tomorrow, Thursday, February 14th at all Amity schools.
I realize that the Amity school calendar, which calls for the February vacation next week, is hard for some to reconcile with due to the amount of school days we have lost from the blizzard. When the calendar was adopted in February, 2012, no one could have predicted what has just occurred.
Historically, the February break has been seen as valuable since it occurs at what is typically the height of winter illness season. We usually experience the highest staff and student absenteeism during this period. A second rationale for having a break in February has to do with the potential for loss of school days due to winter weather. The Amity calendar calls for a vacation next week. This vacation period was confirmed by the Board of Education in December when the calendar was revised to accommodate for the six days lost due to inclement weather in the fall.
It is too late to change the calendar to have school during the February break. However, we will reconsider our historical reasoning when the Board discusses the 2013-2014 calendar.
Because we have now utilized all scheduled “snow days”, we must enact the following procedure as it is stated in the calendar: “If emergency closings exceed four, then any additional days will be taken from the April vacation.” I would like to point out that the Board has taken the following measures to avoid this situation:
- Eliminated two student days
- Canceled the professional development day on March 22
Each of the BOWA districts will now be holding school for a portion of the April vacation. For Amity this means school will be held on April 17, 18 and 19.
Understanding that many families have already planned travel in April, (I’m sure nobody thought, in a million years, we would be in the situation we are now in). We will minimize the negative educational impact of absence. First, absences due to pre-planned travel will be excused. We will require a note from a parent/guardian in order to excuse the absence. We will extend deadlines for assignments and will not conduct major assessments during this period. If parents/guardians have unique circumstances with their student(s), please contact your building administration. We do not want our students to suffer because of circumstances beyond their control.
Past experience tells us that it is unlikely the Commissioner of Education will forgive lost days. His office recently issued a statement reminding superintendents that every available day must be used before he would even consider such a request. This includes vacations, holidays and the last week of June.
We truly regret any inconvenience caused by these decisions and thank all members of the Amity Community for your patience and understanding.
Very truly yours,
John J. Brady