Hurricanes Ian and Nicole shut down classes in all three Treasure Coast school districts, but only one plans to make up lost time.
Martin County schools is using emergency days built into its calendar to make up two of the four days missed during the two storms. School will be in session Dec. 19 and 20, spokeswoman Jennifer DeShazo said. Indian River and St. Lucie school districts are not making students make up the four days.
Each district canceled four days of classes because of hurricanes — two in September because of Ian and two in November because of Nicole.
Martin schools had three days at the beginning of winter break designated as emergency days. St. Lucie has no emergency days built into its calendar, spokesperson Lydia Martin said.
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Whether to make up lost time is a district-by-district decision. St. Lucie and Indian River officials determined they still met the state’s required instructional time, so making up the canceled days was unnecessary.
Martin officials wanted to prioritize education, DeShazo said.
“We wanted to make sure we give children every opportunity to be successful,” DeShazo said.
Martin County School Board member Amy Pritchett at last week’s meeting questioned whether the district needed to cut short winter break. Other board members, however, said parents knew those days were designated as emergency days, and should have expected the possibility school would be in session.
“We’re not where we really should be with our students,” said board member Christia Li Roberts. “The more academics we can have our students doing, the better off it is for these students.”
School districts create their calendars months before the school year begins to give parents time to plan for days when students might be out of school. Last week, Martin County School Board unanimously approved its 2023-2024 calendar, with four emergency days built in at the beginning of Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
The St. Lucie district also has finalized its 2023-2024 calendar, but Indian River has not. Indian River County School Board could take action on a proposed 2023-2024 calendar by January, spokesperson Cristen Maddux said.