Snowed Out School Days Explained

The leader of the Iowa Department of Education has been getting a lot of calls and questions as the number of school days canceled by winter weather continues to mount. Director Ryan Wise says making up the days depends on whether school districts set their yearly calendar based a set number of hours or a set number of days.

School districts had to tack missed days onto the end of the school year or cut short spring break to make up missed days the hour option was added with a change in state law 2014. Wise says it’s become the calendar of choice. Area schools like the Forest City Community School District and others have chosen this method to alleviate the pile up of days.

Schools that use the 180-day calendar need to have students in class for a minimum number of hours to qualify as a day.

The Department of Education doesn’t keep a running total of school days, but Wise says he’s heard it ranges from more than 10 to less than 10. One of the questions he gets is if the Ed Department or the governor can waive the calendar requirement in years like this one.

Each district makes its own decision on when the weather is too bad to hold classes.

He says the superintendents do a good job of making those decisions based on the what’s best for the safety of the students and school employees. Wise says the number of snow days this year varies widely across the state.

He talks about the guidelines schools have to follow under the hour calendar.