Statement from OSPI on Waivers Due to Snowy Weather

On February 8, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation declaring a statewide state of emergency related to this week’s winter storm. We expect the proclamation to be lifted at midnight on February 15, 2019.

State law allows the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to waive missed school days, and school districts will have the opportunity to apply to waive days that were missed while the state of emergency was in effect. However, there is no legal authority to waive the mandatory average of 1,027 hours of instruction for students.

Even when a waiver is granted for missed days during a state of emergency declared by the governor, school districts are required to meet the average total instructional hour offerings. Most districts have a daily schedule that more than ensures they meet 1,027 hours even if they reduce their total days by two or three. When that can’t be achieved, districts will continue to meet their required hours by eliminating release days, adding days to the end of the year, or by any other means legally provided to local school boards.

Some members of the public have expressed concern about the potential need to move graduation dates as a result of missed days. This is entirely a local decision, but past experience has shown us districts do not typically need to move graduation dates as a result of severe weather or makeup days that may be necessary.

Although storms and events like this can disrupt school districts’ planned yearly calendars, there are many ways to make up instructional hours and I am confident our schools will plan accordingly. We do not expect districts to apply for waivers until we are completely through the winter season, and all of the unforeseen weather impacts are behind us.


Anonymous said…
I feel concerned for all the high school kids taking AP classes. Although some schools and classes have students start some AP class material during the summer prior, many are behind three weeks on material due to lack of alignment with the East Coast schedule even without the missed snow days. They take AP tests on the East Coast school calendar schedule in which the school year ends earlier. I can imagine the pressure they are feeling. It seems detrimental to their education to implement two more week long breaks this year.

Anonymous said…
I believe the AP schedule is more in line with colleges than East Coast schools. Many schools in that part of the country start in September; however, most colleges start in August and since AP is a college level course that makes sense. Also, most college classes do not meet every day, like high school classes, so the amount of teaching/class time is probably roughly the same. -TeacherMom (currently teaching an AP class)
Jeremy said…
Of the multiple school districts in different states I know of, the ones in Washington are the only ones that start in September.
IB students are in a similar situation as AP students - with the added issue of many taking a full load of IB classes. They will be done with testing by the end of May, yet will still need to twiddle their thumbs for another month.
Anonymous said…
A majority of NE schools start after Labor Day.
New York City starts after Labor Day.
Most Massachusetts school start after Labor Day.
Philadelphia and Chicago public schools all start after Labor Day in 2019.
Portland Public Schools (OR) start after Labor Day in 2019.

Testing drives the calendar in states with a higher level of lower-income populations, and also states that have attached high-stakes to testing.

Anonymous said…
@teacher mom thanks. I actually heard this concern directly from an SPS principal, 3 weeks behind due to East coast AP testing schedule, so I am repeating what I heard. Though I interpreted it as due to differences between East & West coast in school year calendars.
Anonymous said…
As a teacher of an AP course, my students start a month behind the rest of the country. Starting at the end of August instead of after labor day wouldn't be a bad thing...
-South End Teacher
Anonymous said…
Students at the UW have just 50 hours of instruction to learn the material covered in a five credit introductory course. SPS students have have 91 days of school through the end of January and will have another 47 by the end of April for a total of 138 hours of instruction. This is not an issue.

Fairmount Parent
Anonymous said…
Ugh. Our students are really not at UW (yet). They deserve appropriate instruction for an SPS student, not a UW student. Remember UW courses ask for 3 hrs of student study per credit, so that intro UW credit discussed, is at least 150hrs, not 50.

@Fairmont Parent, my partner is UW faculty who has reviewed credit-hour requirements, and you misinterpret them here.

In any case, these are state requirements outside of SPS control. My reading, is SPS will look to waive the non-contact days after after Mon Jun 24, and after... As teachers we have to determine how to shorten instruction and that's a challenge, often we are still beholden to high-stakes tests...

-South End Teacher
Anonymous said…
"As teachers we have to determine how to shorten instruction and that's a challenge, often we are still beholden to high-stakes tests...

As South End Teacher has stated this does not help students achievement.

"As a teacher of an AP course, my students start a month behind the rest of the country. Starting at the end of August instead of after labor day wouldn't be a bad thing..."

I agree and wish our calendar year for all our high school students was better aligned to truly help our kids on pathways to college, instead of placing them at a disadvantage. I am curious as to how the high school schedule aligns with running start as well.

Adding to the issue, our only local commutable (no room & board can equal more affordable) in-state university in Seattle UW also is much more competitive than it should be for certain majors such as engineering and computer science.

SPS seriously wants to help their students achievement? They should be doing whatever they can to better align their schedule so teachers and students do not have an unfair burden. They should be helping our local students college readiness.

Anonymous said…
The UW is on a quarter system and doesn't start until late September. It is only semester colleges that start in August. It is only with the addition of air conditioning that public schools began starting before labor day. Frankly, I wish they would just get rid of midwinter break and let the kids out earlier in June.

Anonymous said…
@HP If they got out earlier in June I am also assuming it would also help align courses somewhat better with AP (& it sounds like IB) testing schedules. My understanding is they test 3 weeks early. Getting rid of midwinter break and ending a week earlier in June might add 1 week.


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