Storm upsets school schedules; High school will hold classes during two winter holidays

by Allison Caramico and Sara Lombardi
The board of education has decided to open district schools for a single session on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21, and on Presidents Day, Feb. 18, to make up for days lost due to Hurricane Sandy.
The high school was closed from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8 as a result of storm-related property damages and power outages in Scotch Plains and Fanwood.

Even after using the three emergency days built into the 2012-2013 calendar and holding classes on two additional days in November when students would have been off, the school was still two days short of the state’s minimum annual requirement of 180 instructional days, necessitating the change.
“The concern we share is that we’re still in November and have already exceeded the days allotted for snow,” said Norman Whitehouse, board of education president, about the plan, which was proposed at a November meeting by Margaret Hayes, superintendent of schools.
The goal of the board was to avoid shortening the week-long spring break, which is the normal protocol. However, if the district needs to close schools for a snow emergency during the winter months, the make-up days will come out of the spring break nonetheless.
The high school also extended the first marking period by a week and a half. “It was important that the teachers had the opportunity to properly close the marking period with a fair number of assessments,” said David Heisey, principal. The dates of the remaining marking periods will  not change.
Because the elementary schools were closed longer than the middle and high schools, all K-4 schools will be open for a half day on Friday, June 21, and Coles and School One will also be open on Monday, June 24, for a half day.
When asked if the system for emergency days should be changed to prepare for another storm of the same magnitude as Sandy in the future, Hayes said, “Generally, planning for three emergency days meets our needs. This was a storm the likes of which has not been seen in decades. I do not see a need for a new system for emergency days at this time.”