Virginia Beach, Va. – Instead of sleeping in on their Saturday morning, thousands of kids were at school.
Feb. 15 was the first of three snow make up days.
Some students tell NewsChannel 3 there were a lot of empty desks in their classes, though one teacher at Tallwood Elementary School said she had perfect attendance.
A spokesperson for the school system says the absentee numbers for students and teachers will not be available until Monday.
The spokesperson also says he’s not aware of any problems with bus drivers, but one student says it was an issue getting to school because a lot of bus drivers called out.
The superintendent’s decision to make up the days on Saturday was met with mixed reaction when first announced.
Parents cited various reasons for being upset, from plans that were already scheduled, to outrage that the make up days were on the Jewish Sabbath.
Not surprisingly, students weren’t too happy to be in class Saturday morning either.
“I don’t like it. I think they should have just added on time [to each day],” one student told NewsChannel 3.
The superintendent, Dr. Sheila Magula continues to dodge direct questions from NewsChannel 3 on behalf of upset parents and teachers.
When NewsChannel 3 tried to contact her again Saturday, a spokesperson said she was visiting schools to observe classes and would not be making any comments.
School board member Leonard Tengco did take the time to answer some questions.
Though the ultimate decision for school make up days lies with the superintendent, Tengco said that last year the calendar committee selected Saturdays and teacher instructional days for snow make up days.
The calendar committee is made up of school administrators, teachers and citizens.
Tengco said Saturdays were also necessary to meet instructional hours and prepare students for exams.
“Given the adoption of the hybrid schedule in our high schools as well as high stakes examinations such as SOLs, IB tests and AP exams, and the shortness of the calendar year, I believe that’s how the school division arrived at the decision,” Tengco said.
Though many were not pleased with the decision, those who were in class say they made the most of it.
The other two Saturdays chosen as make up days are March 29th and April 26th.
The Virginia Beach Education Association, which is made up of active and retired employees, says those days should be canceled, though.
Friday they sent an email to the school board and superintendent saying the group had originally gone along with the Saturday make up days, but then the group’s president did her own calculations and found that the extra days are unnecessary.
The statement reads in part, “”…it is clear that VBCPS needed only to make up 2 instructional days, one of which was made up on January 24th, to meet the state requirement for number of days attended.”