Sixth snow day puts April break in jeopardy

After heavy snowfall and sleet left Westport’s roads icy and treacherous on Friday, Feb 14, the school district closed for the sixth time this year. This snow day extended February break by one day; however, it will do just the opposite to April break.

The policy is outlined in the Staples Student Handbook.

Elaine Whitney, Board of Education chair, confirmed this policy in an email and said that the new practice was established last January.

“Our expectation is that our clear and early notice of the potential impact on April break will result in strong attendance [on the make-up days],” she said.

Vice Principal Richard Franzis agreed that attendance shouldn’t be a problem considering that everyone knew that making up during April break was a possibility.

However, many students have already scheduled trips for April break and don’t plan to cut them short anytime soon. Annie Raifaisen ’14 and Jess Riniti ’14 both agreed that there will be a lower school attendance on the make-up day due to pre-planned vacations.

Students who participate in Builders Beyond Borders, a popular community service program, will travel to the Dominican Republic this Winter/Spring over school breaks. A few teams are scheduled to leave over April, which would conflict with the snow day policy.

Claire Smith ’15, a member of B3, said that she loves it so much that she wouldn’t reconsider going on the trip because of the makeup days.

“I’m going away in April, and that’s how it’s going to stay,” she said.

Even students who don’t have exotic vacations or community service programs to look forward to are still reluctant to let the five snow day rule reduce April break from five school days off to four.

Kyle Baer ’15 expects that many students won’t even show up for school.

“I probably won’t go on those days. Even if I did, I doubt my classes would do anything important with so many kids missing,” he said.

Raifaisen was frustrated about having a snow day for other reasons. She had a lot of tests and assignments due Friday that she worked on all Wednesday and Thursday but never got a chance to turn them in.

Some wished the snow day had not been called at all..

“I think for the most part the roads were ok, but it could have something to do with the school parking lots or side roads not being clear for a morning opening,” Scott Pecoriellio ’15, who runs the website Wild About Weather.

Pecoriellio said that it’s certainly possible for even more snow days to reduce further the upcoming April break.

“A warm-up will finally take over the region in the next few weeks, but after that, it’s possible the pattern flips colder and snowier once again,” he said.

Regardless of the long-term effect on April break and assignments, some students are simply happy to have another snow day.

“There isn’t a lot of value in a stand-alone half day right before vacation, so letting students just stay home was probably for the best,” Baer said. “It gives me some time to start my House of Cards binge-watching.”

Smith agreed,  “I got out of 3 quizzes, so I’m also fine with that,” she said.