Snowmageddon’s sequel extends the school year, again

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© HAWKEYE Nina Otebele

By Nina Otebele, Outreach Manager

A moderately high level of snow returned to the lowlands of western Washington state earlier this year causing disruptions. Snohomish County experienced over six inches of snow, causing all schools and programs in the Edmonds School District schools to close on Monday, Jan. 13 after a winter storm swept through the area the night before.

Schools remained closed through Wednesday, Jan. 15 as snow continued to accumulate in the area through multiple snowfalls. However, by Thursday, Jan. 16, schools were opened once more with a two-hour late start to account for icy road conditions in the early morning.

Not surprisingly, this three day break caused much disruption in scheduled events, which included community learning programs on topics such as Black Lives Matter and 2SLGBTQIA+ community members. These events were forced to reschedule to later dates.

The break also caused the end of the semester grading period to be extended, as teachers were given a longer time frame to accept and grade final assignments. Additionally, Friday, May 22 has been made into a full day of school and the end of the school year was moved to Monday, June 22.

In 2019, ESD schools were closed for a total of six days. There were also two two-hour late starts and one early release to allow students to go home before another major winter storm struck.

This snow drama caused the ESD to have to be creative in scheduling. By law, Washington state schools are required to have 180 instructional days each year. This means that when a school has to close, it needs to make up that day later in the year.

When Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency because of the large amount of snow last year, school districts were allowed to submit waiver requests so that they did not have to make up all of the instructional days. For example, the Puyallup School District waived some of their snow days and were not required to make them up.

There were talks about the ESD possibly requesting a waiver for many of its snow days. However, through the use of late starts and half-days, the ESD did not have to go through the process of requesting a waiver from the state.

It is noticeable that the Seattle region has been experiencing a somewhat predictable snow weather pattern over the past few years. Generally, it has been experiencing a few years of zero to seven inches of snow followed by an extreme snow level of somewhere around 20 inches. Right after that spike, things revert back to the usual zero to seven inches.

This may not be the last of schools closing because of winter weather, so it is important to pay close attention to the Seattle area’s weather patterns.