2013's brutal winter has changed how Ohio handles snow days. (Source: WOIO)
Winter, once again, has its icy grip on northeast Ohio. This month, many local school districts used their first "snow days" so students didn't have to be outside in dangerous, cold conditions. It's a big difference from the last school year when by this time, many districts had already used up their allotted "calamity days" because of snow and cold. Many had to stretch the school year well into June to make up the time.
This year, the Ohio Department of Education no longer requires schools to be open for a minimum number of "days." Instead, they must be open for a minimum number of "hours."
It doesn't change the amount of time in school, but it does give districts more flexibility in making up class time lost to the worst of winter. Instead of tacking on days at the end of the year or cancelling spring break, districts can lengthen the school day or make up to three days with a "blizzard bag," schoolwork that kids can do at home. Most districts have a number of "excess hours" already built in to their year that don't need to be made up at all.
With that comes a certain amount of grumbling from "the curmudgeons of Cleveland," who had to walk to school 10 miles up hill, both ways, through 10-foot snow drifts. Exposing kids to hazardous travel conditions and the potential for frostbite and hypothermia just because "we had to" is ridiculous. State education leaders have done the right thing in making it easier for districts to find the balance in keeping kids safe and keeping them in class.