Snow days present possibility of school year end date change


Manal Salim

Winter weather burries the residential areas of Columbia now for more than a week. Although the snow only fell Tuesday, because it was accompanied by arctic air, the weather spelled trouble for Columbia Public Schools and drivers. Photo by Maribeth Eiken
When the snowstorm swept across Mid-Missouri last week, leaving seven inches of snow and ice, the red banner scrolled across the Columbia Public Schools website, day after day, announcing cancellations. Students anticipated days filled with relaxation and perhaps some snow-related activities. However, for RBHS seniors, little did they know that their week off school had the potential for implications come May.
As of now, the last day for seniors at RBHS is May 16, and graduation is May 22. However, as students have missed seven days of instructional time, school administrators are discussing whether the last day of school for seniors should be adjusted to a later date.
“At this point, we have not reached a decision for the last day for seniors, whether it will be the 16th of May or later,” said Dr. Jennifer Mast, principal. “The Rock Bridge administration has met to discuss the topic, but we have not yet come to a decision. It may take a couple weeks before we reach a final decision.”
Senior Inas Syed said she hopes Mast makes an effort to prevent alterations at the end of the year affecting seniors’ traditional week out of classes between their finals and their graduation.
“I think that it definitely isn’t crucial to add on dates at the end of the year. It’s our last semester. Grades don’t really count too much, and everything can be squeezed just a little. I think most seniors will be OK with moving at a little bit of a faster pace to go through all the material,” Syed said. “I think that at the end of the year, the most important thing for most people will be to finish high school earlier, on May 16, like planned.”
Aware of the negative consequences the snow days will have on classes, Advanced Placement Language and Composition teacher Deborah McDonough foresees the compromises she must make later on in the year.
“With all the snow days we had, we lose those days in the AP course because the AP test is in May at a certain date,” McDonough said. “So what we end up doing is refocusing our attention on the material that we need and that is absolutely necessary that we cover, and there’s not going to be a lot more embellishments in the curriculum.”

At this point we have not reached a decision for the last day for seniors.”
-Jennifer Mast

In order to prevent making too many changes in her curriculum, McDonough said she usually makes an effort over the snow days to help out her students. She believes in making use of the technology available in education to get as much learning done as possible when school is not in session.
“What I do for my students, is I put the information we are learning on Angel,” McDonough said. “And what I’ve learned is because we have Angel available, I can use that sort of technology to let students know what they should be doing at home, even though they aren’t in class. At least there’s a way to communicate even over snow days, and since students want to know what they should be doing to stay on track with the class.”
Though AP teachers like McDonough will be more rushed because of the week lost to snow days to complete material before the AP test, senior Amira Mavrakis said pushing off the end of the year for seniors will not make a substantial difference.
“For me, I don’t have too much of a preference. I can see both sides of the story, from the position of the administration as well as how seniors see it,” Mavrakis said. “Extending the year for seniors would not change the date of AP tests, and therefore there will not bring any extra time to learn more information. But also, extending the year would give seniors a chance to perhaps elaborate more in certain subjects before they graduate.”
Aside from the issue of how much learning can get done before the end of the year, Syed believes extending the year for seniors may present problems to the families of graduates as well.
“I definitely do not think that they should add on days to the end of the year for seniors,” Syed said. “One reason is that the dates have already been set and many families of the graduates have already planned on attending graduation at a specific date and getting ready well before then.”
Mast verified that no decision is official at this point in time. Though the days lost may present an issue to classes attempting to teach enough information before the end of the year, Mast explains the extension wouldn’t even provide much benefit, if it is implicated at all.
“Seven days lost from a semester is a significant amount to take away from students and teachers,” Mast said. “But really, from the 16th to the 22nd, four days won’t really make too much of a difference.”
By Manal Salim