Schools weigh effect of snow days, await decision on lost time

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo by Linda Gallagher

Almost two weeks of snow days means much more than just an unexpected vacation to teachers, coaches and students, who may face making up the lost school days later this year, depending on decisions expected to be made soon by the State of Michigan.


REGION – Under Michigan state law, school districts are allowed six cancelled days due to conditions beyond their control, or what is known as "Act Of God" days, which includes severe storms, fires, epidemics, power outages, or health issues.

As of Monday, Feb. 11, all of the public schools in both Antrim and Kalkaska counties had used all of those snow days and gone well past that limit. Although an additional three snow days can be requested by those districts from the state superintendent – which all of the local school districts are expected to apply for – many schools have used even more snow days than that.

Michigan law requires districts to offer at least 1,098 hours of instruction per year during a minimum of 180 days. Failure to meet these requirements puts districts at risk of not receiving their full state school aid funding.

And on Monday it was snowing again, putting a full day of school on Tuesday in doubt for many districts. 

But perhaps more important, as school superintendents across the state begin contemplating using already scheduled school vacation days to make up for the additional snow days, are the effects of so many lost days of education on students and their teachers.

Sheree Robinson, a full-time math teacher at Bellaire High School, who with her husband Brock has three children enrolled in the school district, is one of the instructors facing those issues. 

As of Monday, Bellaire has had a total of 12 snow days.

"Besides the fact that we have lost almost two full weeks of school, for some of my classes – depending on where we are in the chapter – I am going to have to consider it finished and not have a quiz or test over the material, Robinson said of her math classes. "We need to move on to the next chapter; otherwise we will just end up spinning our wheels."

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