MT. VERNON — Heavy snowfall and lingering cold temperatures caused many area schools to use multiple snow days this week, which will further impact their calendars.
But snow days are not just a scheduling problem for districts. They also take away valuable instructional time to help prepare students for state testing in the spring.
“There's definitely some lost down time there,” said Michael Smith, superintendent of Mt. Vernon Township High School.
MVTHS took two snow days this week, Wednesday and Thursday, but was back in session Friday. Thursday's snow day was the district's eighth and final emergency day it had factored into the 2013-2014 calendar.
These eight days will have to be made up at the end of the year.
In January, MVTHS moved its graduation date to a week later after the district had taken six snow days. Smith said he does not expect the new graduation date, May 24, to change.
Smith added that the weather this winter has been more severe than is typical for Southern Illinois.
The combination of snow and low temperatures has led to more snow days because the roads are staying treacherous for longer periods, he said.
“It's not a decision we take lightly,” Smith said of using snow days. “We take it seriously (and consider) the safety of the students.”
Other area schools are also grappling with the impact of snow days.
Webber Township High School has used about 12 snow days so far this year, well in excess of the five emergency days the district had planned for in its calendar, said Principal Brock Harris.
Several options are now being considered by Webber school officials to deal with the situation.
Superintendent Scott Porter has applied for Act of God status for the snow days taken in excess of five, Harris said. If the status is granted, these days would not have to be made up at the end of the year.