Schools closed, exams postponed
Friday: Undetermined, no early release.
Monday: School for teachers and students, no teacher work day.
Other schools closed Thursday: Kannapolis City Schools, North Hills Christian School, Salisbury Academy and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
By Rebecca Rider
SALISBURY — Heavy snows and slick roads have closed schools for two days in a row, and district administrators say the weather may cut into classes Friday, as well.
But the weather is doing more than shortening class time — it’s also affecting exams.
“Students were in the middle of exams. So they should have been in exams today,” Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody said Wednesday.
End-of-the-semester exams began Monday for high school students, and were supposed to run through Friday. Now, Moody and high school administrators are working fast to reschedule.
“It’s very unusual and it’s been very complicated to figure out,” Moody said.
So far, the administration has determined that should school resume Friday, high school teachers will use the day as an exam review day. Friday was initially supposed to be an early release day, but should schools open — even with a delay in the morning — they will remain open until normal closing time.
“We’ll go as much of the day as we can,” Moody said.
Monday was originally supposed to be a teacher workday, but instead will be used as a snow makeup day. The remaining exams will start Monday and run through Wednesday.
The break is throwing off schedules for students and teachers. According to Moody, interrupting exams can interrupt the flow and routine students build up around test time.
“It just causes havoc to have a snow day in the middle of exams,” she said.
The delays are also cutting into teaching days for high school second semesters. Normally teachers get a small reprieve after exams to wrap up one semester and transition to the next. Monday was supposed to serve as a time for them to plan and prepare for the change.
“And unfortunately we’re not going to be able to do that this year,” she said.
Instead, the second semester will start Thursday, giving teachers and students no break between the two halves of the school year.
“This is one of the reasons we’ve asked for calendar flexibility,” Moody said.
School calendar restrictions, such as starting and ending dates, are set by the General Assembly. If those decisions were turned over to the local level, Moody said, districts would likely arrange schedules so that the first semester wrapped up before Christmas break. Winter weather often strikes in January, she said, and this is not the first time snow has interrupted exams.
No decision has been made on when, or if, schools will make up the second snow day. Teachers, however, have several options to make up missed work. Wednesday and Thursday staff could participate in online professional development or work from home. They can also choose to attend a March 24 “EdCamp” to make up the day.
Students are busy, as well. High school students have been encouraged to study — and are entered into prize drawings if they tweet or post of photo of themselves doing so. Other teachers sent out emails and posts suggesting activities or work students could do, and some schools have assigned reading challenges.
“So, lots of options,” Moody said.
Since the beginning of January, students have missed a total of three school days due to weather — Wednesday and Thursday, and Jan. 2. Three other days were shortened due to delays or weather-related early closures. And four schools lost an additional day due to boiler system malfunctions.
Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.