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Class will be held Monday after Easter and June 13

By SARA NEWMAN

Staff writer

The last day of school for Calvert County Public Schools will be June 13 — June 11 for pre-K — following the state’s approval to waive three of the required school days after excessive snow closures this winter.

With the students having missed 10 days of school this year due to inclement weather and the school system having used all five of the built-in snow days, Calvert County Interim Superintendent Nancy V. Highsmith originally requested a five-day waiver from the Maryland State Department of Education on March 20. The request was denied Monday, citing that the school system did not demonstrate an effort to modify the school calendar to make up for lost instructional time — something Highsmith previously said she did not want to do because school calendars had been made up so far in advance, and she did not want to disrupt families’ planned vacations, according to a release from the school system.

Maryland law requires schools to operate 180 days each year. The state board of education is granting waivers on a case-by-case basis.

On Thursday morning, a second release from the school system said Highsmith’s updated request to use the Monday after Easter break, April 21, and June 13 as instructional days had been approved and three remaining school days had been waived. The board of education will formally vote on the change at its April 10 meeting, the release states.

“The state is making a strong statement that we need to add more calendar days [in the school year] rather than adding them onto the end [of the school year],” Highsmith said Wednesday.

Highsmith also said Wednesday she was considering requesting the Memorial Day holiday also be used as an instructional day, but the press release issued Thursday says she ultimately decided to keep the government holiday in Calvert.

Lillian Lowery, state superintendent, approved similar modified waivers for Charles County Public Schools and Montgomery County Public Schools. Charles County Public Schools already made up one of its missed days by turning Presidents’ Day, Feb. 17, into a school day, and the system converted four two-hour early dismissal days into regular school days. Montgomery County Public Schools announced Wednesday it will be sending students to school the Monday after Easter and ending the school year June 13.

The state approved a five-day waiver for St. Mary’s County Public Schools, which missed 12 school days, but teachers, paraeducators and other 10-month school employees will be required to work an extra 40 minutes each day, according to an agreement hashed out between the school superintendent and the teachers’ union.

Highsmith said as a result of the “extreme winter,” school systems are “scrambling” to make up the missed days. She said the school system’s calendar committee is currently working on adding “moveable snow days” into the calendar year to prepare for this type of situation in the future.

“This is something that, in the future, we now know that’s what the state is looking for, so that we have some days within our regular school calendar … but it’s been four years since we were in the same situation, and at that time, there was a different state superintendent,” Highsmith said, calling the experience “a learning process.”

snewman@somdnews.com

Staff writer Meghan Cady contributed to this report.