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No flexibility on snow days yet, according to top state school administrator

Connecticut’s Acting Commissioner of Education George Coleman says he’s holding firm to the 180-day rule for students to attend school. Coleman reported to the State Board of Education on Wednesday, February 9, that his office has heard concerns from many school districts struggling to come up with new school calendars in the wake of school closings due to snow and subsequent school building roof problems.

“I’m reminding school districts that students can attend school through June 30th. I’m also asking districts to explore holidays and vacations as a way for students to make up lost classroom time,” Coleman told the State Board.

Coleman explained that he met with a subcommittee of the State Board before the full Board met on February 9. At that meeting, he discussed with the subcommittee the potential that flexibility might be provided to school districts. That flexibility would come in the form of waivers to school districts, enabling them to fulfill a 900-hour commitment to student classroom time, rather than forcing them to operate this year for a full 180 days. However, Coleman was quick to emphasize, “At the moment, we here at the State Department of Education are focused on 180 days.”

Another concern for Coleman’s office is administration of state standardized tests, given the interruption of classroom time due to weather. Under current rules the local administration of state tests is supposed to take place within a four-week window in March. Coleman said the state is examining whether a fifth week might be added to the state testing schedule for local districts, but there are a host of contractual obligations that might stand in the way. “We will keep you apprised if we feel compelled to extend the testing period,” said Coleman.

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