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HWRSD takes back school days

Date: 11/28/2011

Nov. 28, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM — The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) recently announced its plan to take back some of the valuable education time lost in the week following the Oct. 29 snowstorm.

All of the district’s schools were closed from Oct. 31 through Nov. 4 and reopened on Nov. 7 due to power outages in addition to unsafe roads and walkways.

In addition to making Nov. 10 — originally a day off to conduct parent/teacher conferences — a regular school day, Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea announced that two days originally not on the schedule were added as half days.

Nov. 23, originally scheduled to be a day off prior to Thanksgiving, was reclaimed as a half day and Dec. 23, originally the start of winter vacation, is also now scheduled to be a half day.

“In recapturing these days, right now the 180th day of classes is scheduled for June 18 [2012],” O’Shea told Reminder Publications, explaining the rescheduling was done to ensure flexibility heading into the harsh winter weather months.

The Department of Education, which requires students attend classes for at least 180 days, has told school districts that the days missed as a result of the storm would not be waived.

O’Shea said the input of the district’s employees was taken into consideration when making this decision.

“We will typically involve the staff in these conversations,” he said. “We surveyed the staff to get a sense of their availability and worked closely with the [Hampden-Wilbraham Education Association].”

Conference sessions originally scheduled for Nov. 10 have been rescheduled for the evenings of Nov. 29 and Dec. 1, and “immediately after school” on Nov. 30, according to a letter to parents from O’Shea.

The School Committee, according to O’Shea, is also exploring the development of a plan to be put in place in the event the region suffers through another winter like the one it did a year ago.

HWRSD students had to surrender three days of their April vacation last year due to the heavy and unrelenting snowstorms that winter.

Before that decision was made, the last day of the HWRSD school year was getting precariously close to June 30. Per contractual agreement, schools in the district may not conduct classes beyond that date. With the number of snow days used, the district’s last day of school would have been June 28.

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