Metro school districts decide how to make up for missed class time

Although Gwinnett County Public Schools has launched a program to give students instruction when schools close, the “digital learning days” were put in place after the district had already used its three allotted “snow days.”

But the state’s largest district already had a plan to make up those days. Since the high winds and torrential rains of Tropical Storm Irma kept students out of class in September, they will have to make those days up in February and March.

According to the 2017-2018 calendar, Friday, Feb. 23; Friday, March 9 and Friday, March 23 will be the makeup days. The students will still have Friday, Feb. 9 and Monday, Feb. 19 as vacation days. Feb. 19, however, is a teacher work day.

With so many school systems using various methods to make up for lost learning time, Gwinnett officials have been fielding calls from parents wondering when school will be in session.

“It can be confusing,” said Sloan Roach, Gwinnett schools spokeswoman. “We sent out a calendar at the beginning of the school year with the possible makeup days included, but we’ll be sending out more information to students and parents.”

This is the first year NiKiya Dixon’s children are in Gwinnett schools and she said she’s grateful for the emphasis on instruction.

“I love that the schools are so proactive,” she said. “The first day of digital learning it took a little getting used to, but now we are in the groove.”

Her three daughters are in second, fourth and eighth grade in the South Gwinnett cluster.

“I loved the bonding time with the girls and it turned an unfortunate situation into a time for me to be teacher-mom,” she said. “I have a new respect for everyone at the school.”

Here is how other metro Atlanta school systems plan to make up missed days:

Atlanta Public Schools will add 30 minutes to school days from Jan. 29 through March 30 to make up seven days it has lost. The longer schedule means elementary schools will release students at 3 p.m., high schools at 4 p.m. and middle schools at 4:35 p.m., the district said. Atlanta schools surveyed parents on six options for making up the class time and chose the one with the most support.

DeKalb County will make up two days by having students attend Feb. 16 and March 9, days when school was originally scheduled to be closed. It will survey parents about two other days it plans to make up.

Clayton County is asking for feedback from parents, teachers and the community about how to make up three instructional days. Options include classes on days originally scheduled as breaks, an hour added on five school days, or school on three Saturdays.

Fulton County will hold classes Feb. 16, originally set as a day off. It also will hold classes on March 12 and use March 9 as the district’s first “digital learning day” where students use technology to work from home.

Cobb County had not talked about makeup days, a spokesman said earlier, because since its school days are longer than the minimum length of time required, “We’ve got plenty of seat time built in.”

Cherokee County will require children to attend school Feb. 21, 22 and 23 – days previously designated for February Break – to make up three of the four school days missed in January because of weather, officials announced.

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