W-JCC, York schools prepared to weather the winter

For school children, a snow day can be a dream come true, but for teachers, school officials and parents, they can come close to being a nightmare.

While Williamsburg escaped the worst of the most recent snowstorm to hit Virginia, January and February are the most common months for school cancellations caused by inclement weather. Looking ahead, even after an unusual amount of bad weather in the first half of the school year, local school officials feel confident looking forward.

According to Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools, in spite of some school closures coming earlier than usual, thanks to time built in to the class schedule, the division is still on schedule.

“The school system said it’s still in fine shape when it comes to time off,” Cox said. “The amazing thing about that is, this is in spite of having already had two hurricanes early in the school year and last month’s snowstorm.”

The 2018-19 school year has had an unusual amount of inclement weather: Hurricane Florence in September, Hurricane Michael in October and the record-setting snowstorm in December. The Williamsburg area has been luckier than most as well, not just with the recent snowstorm, but it was not Zone A for Hurricane Florence, meaning that while other counties had mandatory evacuation orders in effect, students in Williamsburg remained in class.

W-JCC has 12 days built into the school calendar in the event of inclement weather; five school days have been canceled so far this school year. The first two were a result of Hurricane Florence in September, the third in October as a result of Hurricane Michael, and two in December after the heavy snow. W-JCC has made up for some of that missed time by shifting two half-days into full days, including Jan. 24 next week.

York County Public Schools relies on a formula to determine the amount of banked time in a year. Thus far, they’ve had to close schools six times this year, missing four days in September as a result of Florence, one in October and one last month. In addition to shifting a half day on Dec. 19 into a full day, students attended classes on Veteran’s Day.

The Virginia Department of Education requires districts to have at least 180 days or 990 hours of instruction each school year. By state law, the first five missed days must be made up, plus one more day for every two additional days missed.

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