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Town-by-Town: How Our Districts Handle Snow Days

Though CT and NY state law requires 180 school days, our districts make up for weather-related cancellations in vastly different ways. Here's a breakdown.

School buses in the snow. Look familiar? (Patch file photo)
School buses in the snow. Look familiar? (Patch file photo)

Written by Michael Dinan.

With the academic calendar’s first major winter storm under its belt, and one week after the first weather-related school cancellation for many Fairfield and Westchester County districts, the attention of many parents is understandably turning to local rules and plans surrounding snow days.

Though state law in both Connecticut and New York requires at least 180 school days, individual districts—including those experiencing identical weather—often have vastly different ways of accommodating cancellations within the academic calendar.

Scroll down for a district-by-district snapshot of snow-day planning for several Fairfield and Westchester towns.

While some towns keep it very simple—tack snow days onto the end of the year, for example—others build more than 180 days into their calendars to absorb anticipated snow days, and still others draw a line in late June that forces further school cancellations days to be made up in either February or April break. There are some towns with sophisticated systems where make-up days are scheduled in waves, depending on when the snow day itself occurs.

Because decisions about snow days in a particularly bad year (think Snowtober or Hurricane Sandy) can alter highly anticipated and sometimes elaborate vacation plans, a district’s approach can have serious consequences for local families. Naturally, not every parent puts schooling first: In New Canaan, CT, for example, cancellations last academic year ate into the 2013 April break—and student attendance promptly fell 20 percent that week.

One notable difference between the two states: New York state law prohibits the use of legal holidays to make up for snow days, while in Connecticut a district may schedule school on legal holidays, so long as they’re not in December or January. Both New York and Connecticut permit the state education department to grant a reprieve on the 180-day rule—New York waived the requirement after Sandy—though state officials in Connecticut have warned that weather-related cancellations likely will not satisfy the “unavoidable emergencies” standard written into the law.

Here’s the snapshot:

  • Larchmont Mamaroneck NY: The district “pads” the calendar by four days, which then can come off of the calendar if they’re not needed. Officials with the district tell Patch it’s rare that more than four days are needed. In a particularly bad winter, there are days in the calendar that go from off-days to school days, such as the Friday before Memorial Day.
  • Rye NY (city): The district schedules for 183 days and schedules snow make-up days in waves. If it’s necessary to use an emergency day during the first two months of school, Nov. 5 becomes an instructional day for students (otherwise a Superintendent’s conference day). Beyond that, the following days become makeup days in the event of cancellations, in this order: April 21, May 27, May 23. Beyond that, a day is tacked on at the end of June.
  • Port Chester-Rye NY: Similarly, make-up days come in waves, as needed. If school is closed for a day from September through Nov. 4, then Nov. 5 becomes a school day (otherwise it’s a Superintendent’s conference day). Beyond that, if up to three snow days occur, make-up days occur in this order: March 18, April 11, 17, 16, 21. If fewer than three emergency days are used, school is closed May 23.
  • Greenwich and Stamford CT: There are built-in "inclement weather" days included in June. If all five days are then utilized to make up for weather-related closures, the school then turns to April break. Right now, the last day of school in Greenwich is scheduled for June 24.
  • New Canaan CT: Nine built-in "snow or other school closings" days are included in June. If all nine days are then utilized to make up for weather-related closures, the school then turns to April break.
  • Darien CT: Snow days are tacked onto the end of the academic year.
  • Westport CT: The last day for students and teachers in Westport is currently scheduled for June 20, according to Westport Public Schools. The first five snow days are built into the end of the year. Any additional snow days will reduce the April vacation, beginning with Monday, April 14.
  • Fairfield CT: The last day for students and teachers in Fairfield is currently scheduled for June 11, according to Fairfield Public Schools. The first seven snow days will extend the length of the school year, as well as the date of high school graduations. Any additional snow days will reduce the April vacation, beginning with Monday, April 14. 
  • Trumbull CT: According to the school calendar, "snow days, up to a maximum of six, will be added to the end of the school year. If needed,additional days will be taken from the February vacation, beginning with Friday, Feb. 22, 2014." It continues: "If an 11th day is needed, or if an additional day is needed after February vacation, that day will be recovered on the April 1 [Professional Development] day, which will be a legal day. Teachers will attend one more day in June."
  • Shelton CT: According to the Shelton School policy, "school cancellations in excess of 7 days will be made up during the spring recess starting with 4/14 (excluding 4/18) and not at the end of the year." June 12 is tentatively the last day of school.

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