Here’s a solution for the Niskayuna school board for how to schedule snow days in next year’s school calendar.
Go to the school calendar for any other district in New York state, and copy it. There. Problem solved.
The Niskayuna school board finds itself in the unusual position of having been unable to create a simple school calendar for next year that includes extra days built in to close school in the event of inclement winter weather.
Rather than figure out how to work snow days into the calendar and still maintain the minimum number of instructional days, the district is opting to make up any school closures due to bad winter weather during April break.
As a result, district officials are warning parents not to schedule any April vacations because it’s very likely classes will have to be held during that week.
There are a couple of problems here.
One: Having to close school due to bad weather in this climate is a virtual certainty. This is New York, not Florida.
Unless the district lucks out and all of next year’s major snow- and ice storms fall on a weekend or during another break, there’s very likely to be at least one day school will have to be canceled.
April is when many families take vacations, a fact the district can’t ignore. Asking parents not to schedule vacations because the district can’t figure out how to fit in snow days is ridiculous.
Those parents will either be forced not to schedule their vacations, as suggested by the district, or to go anyway and subject their children to missing out on school lessons and exposing them to potential academic penalties for unexcused absences. That’s not right.
Two: The reason districts cancel classes during bad weather is to ensure the safety of students and employees.
Without snow days built into the calendar, the district might be tempted to open school on a bad-weather day rather than risk the prospect of making up that day during April break.
Safety shouldn’t be sacrificed by the prospect of ruining people’s vacations.
Every school district in New York has to deal with winter weather, and yet others don’t seem to have a problem scheduling snow days in their calendars.
Parents deserve to be reassured about the district’s commitment to safety and to be confident that if they schedule a family vacation, they can still take it.
Niskayuna school officials and teachers need to put their heads together and redo the calendar to include snow days.
If every other district in New York can figure this out, so can Niskayuna.