With the academic calendar’s first major winter storm under its belt, and one week after the first weather-related school cancellation for many Westchester County districts, the attention of many parents is understandably turning to local rules and plans surrounding snow days.
Though state law in New York requires at least 180 school days, individual districts—including those experiencing identical weather—often have different ways of accommodating cancellations within the academic calendar.
Scroll down for a snapshot of snow-day planning for some Westchester communities.
While some towns keep it very simple—tack snow days onto the end of the year, for example—others build more than 180 days into their calendars to absorb anticipated snow days, and still others draw a line in late June that forces further school cancellations days to be made up in either February or April break. There are some towns with sophisticated systems where make-up days are scheduled in waves, depending on when the snow day itself occurs.
Because decisions about snow days in a particularly bad year (think Snowtober or Hurricane Sandy) can alter highly anticipated and sometimes elaborate vacation plans, a district’s approach can have serious consequences for local families. Naturally, not every parent puts schooling first: In New Canaan, CT, for example, cancellations last academic year ate into the 2013 April break—and student attendance promptly fell 20 percent that week.
New York state law prohibits the use of legal holidays to make up for snow days, but in nextdoor Connecticut a district may schedule school on legal holidays, so long as they’re not in December or January. Both New York and Connecticut permit the state education department to grant a reprieve on the 180-day rule—New York waived the requirement after Sandy—though state officials in Connecticut have warned that weather-related cancellations likely will not satisfy the “unavoidable emergencies” standard written into the law.
Here’s the snapshot:
- Scarsdale: Scarsdale's school calendar is 183 days - 186 with three staff development and conference days - and the end of school is scheduled for June 27. According to the district, "In the event make-up school days are needed, the District schools will use, in the following order: Monday, April 21, Monday, April 14; Thursday, April 17; Wednesday, April 16; Tuesday, April 15."
- Bronxville: The district schedules 182 days for students, and 185 for teachers and administrators. In the event of snow days, make up days "will occur during April vacation, if necessary."
- Eastchester: Students have a 182-day schedule and teachers have a 186-day schedule. According to the district, "In the event schools are closed for more than two days for emergencies, the order for make-up days will be Nov. 5, May 23, Feb. 21, Feb. 20, Feb. 19, Feb, 18, April 14, April 15, April 16 and April 17."
- Tuckahoe: The district has the minimum 180-day schedule for students and 184 days for teachers. If there is only one snow day, there is no make up day. If there are two to three make up days or more, when those make up days will occur will be determined, according to the district.
- Larchmont Mamaroneck: The district “pads” the calendar by four days, which then can come off of the calendar if they’re not needed. Officials with the district tell Patch it’s rare that more than four days are needed. In a particularly bad winter, there are days in the calendar that go from off-days to school days, such as the Friday before Memorial Day.
- Rye (city): The district schedules for 183 days and schedules snow make-up days in waves. If it’s necessary to use an emergency day during the first two months of school, Nov. 5 becomes an instructional day for students (otherwise a Superintendent’s conference day). Beyond that, the following days become makeup days in the event of cancellations, in this order: April 21, May 27, May 23. Beyond that, a day is tacked on at the end of June.
- Port Chester-Rye: Similarly, make-up days come in waves, as needed. If school is closed for a day from September through Nov. 4, then Nov. 5 becomes a school day (otherwise it’s a Superintendent’s conference day). Beyond that, if up to three snow days occur, make-up days occur in this order: March 18, April 11, 17, 16, 21. If fewer than three emergency days are used, school is closed May 23.