Aberdeen school districts set calendar to make up for 10 snow days

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - After having to call 10 snow days so far, Aberdeen schools have finalized plans to make up for those days.

For Dr. Becky Guffin, the superintendent of Aberdeen Public Schools, this winter has been frustrating, to say the least.

”This winter has been like none other. There have been a number of interruptions that we certainly were not looking forward to. We had a lot of firsts. We missed four days in one week. We’ve never done that before. There was never a snow event on a weekend,” said Dr. Guffin.

Both Dr. Guffin and Roncalli 7-12th grade principal Paula Florey say 10 snow days is the most they’ve seen in one school year.

”I was in Iowa for 18 years, and we were pushing 10 one time. But yes, in South Dakota, since I’ve been back here since 2015, this is the by far the most days that we’ve looked at in making up,” said Florey.

Calling those days off, however, was very necessary.

“One thing to keep in mind, we have a lot of young drivers. That’s very different than those of us that have experience driving in winter weather. Many times, we have to keep in mind how much time it takes to clean up. Even though snow events are done, cleanup takes awhile as well. There’s just a whole host of things that we do consider with snow days, but safety always has to be the priority,” said Dr. Guffin.

Both the Aberdeen Catholic and Public School Systems have set May 26th as the last day of school. Roncalli will be able to make up for seven of the 10 days missed.

”We had 10 snow days, and we’re making up seven of those days because we had some built in. We’re going to push out until May 26th, and then, we’re giving up Easter Monday as well to make up our days,” said Florey.

The public school district, however, has nearly 4,000 more students than the Aberdeen Catholic School System. Dr. Guffin said adding built-in days isn’t easy to do in a larger district.

”A district of our size, it is very difficult to add school back in when days are planning to be off. There’s many people that are involved. We did try that a couple of times. What people hated more was making up days during the year than they do at the end of the year,” said Dr. Guffin.

The Aberdeen Public Schools will be able to make up for five of the 10 days missed, and will meet instructional hour requirements.

“This has been a very unique year, so we had a very unique set of circumstances to work with, and we have a unique solution as well. We came together as a compromise. We compromised by making up five of the days that we’ve missed. The rest of the time, we do meet our instructional hours. So, we’re going to forgive a few of those days. That was built into the calendar,” said Dr. Guffin.

Both Dr. Guffin and Florey said fitting curriculum in when so many days have been missed has been a concern, but the education staff in Aberdeen have been able to adjust.

”We did make some accommodations for the end of the third quarter, so we did balance the number of days between third and fourth quarter. Honestly, our staff just put in a lot of extra work, a lot of extra time making it work for kids and making adjustments within the curriculum to make things work out,” said Dr. Guffin.

Dr. Guffin and Principal Florey said if more snow days come their way, the school boards may need to take another look at the last day of school. For now, everyone is hoping for a sunshine-filled spring.