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Ask 13: Why aren't missed school days during a state of emergency waived?

"As a group, we are curious as to why we have to make up snow days for January 17th, 18th, and 19th when the governor called a state of emergency? Could these days not be waived due to the state of emergency?" one concerned parent wrote to Ask 13. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Western North Carolina counties saw plenty of wintry weather in January, forcing many school districts to close. Governor Roy Cooper even declared a state of emergency because of the weather conditions.

Now, some parents wonder if it's fair to make students make up those missed school days that happened during the state of emergency.

"As a group, we are curious as to why we have to make up snow days for January 17th, 18th, and 19th when the governor called a state of emergency? Could these days not be waived due to the state of emergency?" one concerned parent wrote to Ask 13.

There are a handful of options schools can consider to make up for lost instruction time, including longer days, Saturday classes, canceling holidays or extending the school year.

Most options aren't very appealing, especially to parents.

North Carolina law says schools must have a minimum of 185 days, or 1,025 hours, per year. They can't start earlier than August 26 and they have to finish by June 11. But that can change with a weather-related waiver.

So, what about a waiver for a state of emergency?

"With concern for public safety, we knew that state of emergency was necessary, but we are still mandated to follow the calendar law of 185 days of instruction or 1,025 hours," Susanne Swanger, the associate superintendent for Buncombe County Schools, said.

Buncombe County surveyed families to get their thoughts on how to make up the missed snow days. The school system has decided to make March 30 and May 28 early release student days. They'll also extend the school year until June 13.

Swanger says the school system doesn't take calling a snow day lightly. She said they have a lot of staff out early in the mornings checking road conditions when weather gets bad. But, ultimately, the first concern is the safety of students, staff, and teenage drivers.

If you have a question for you'd like answered, write to Ask13@WLOS.com.

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