Despite a full week of instruction on the schedule, all Pendleton School District students spent more time at home last week than they did in the classroom.
Heavy snow and ice forced the district to cancel school four days last week, capped off by a two-hour delay on Friday.
While some districts have been hit harder than others by a historically cold and wet February, all schools are trying to figure out how to make up for all the lost time.
Matt Yoshioka, the Pendleton School District’s director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, said the district is still waiting to see how the rest of the winter affects the schedule.
But as of Monday, the district will not extend the school calendar beyond the June 6 end date to compensate for Pendleton’s seven snow days and two late starts.
Although most students won’t see the rest of the school year change, high school seniors will see a few of their scheduled days off turn into instructional days.
Since seniors typically end the school year ahead of their peers due to their impending graduation, Yoshioka said snow days leave them more vulnerable to dipping below the minimum number of instructional hours mandated by the state.
As a result, the district is converting the March 15 parent-teacher conference day into a instructional day for seniors. And the two days off seniors were slated to get ahead of their June 1 graduation will also now become school days.
Although teachers are making adjustments to their schedules, Yoshioka said some of their plans will have to go by the wayside.
“You can’t do more with less,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen.”
Pendleton High School science teacher Schelle Bixler made incremental changes to her lesson plans after the first three snow days of the school year, but the last four required heavier edits.
Bixler went through her plans and nixed a video day and another activity that wasn’t closely tied to the curriculum.
Other plans were truncated or moved up in the schedule, like Monday’s microscope lab that was originally set for later in the week.
Bixler said her new plans for the rest of the year are more heavily focused on the standards of the curriculum to make sure her students complete their course.
She also wants to maintain as many labs as possible as well as a senior trip to the coast.
Bixler said students have been receptive to the changes, especially the students in her dual-credit biology course
Pendleton isn’t the only district contemplating its post-snowstorm options.
Milton-Freewater Unified School District Superintendent Rob Clark said his district has lost four days to inclement weather and is planning on making up three.
In addition to school cancellations, Clark said Milton-Freewater has been hit hard by poor attendance during the snowstorms, although he respects parents’ decisions to keep their kids home.
In an email, Umatilla School District Superintendent Heidi Sipe said the district is still waiting for winter to end to finalize their plans, although an April 19 flex day after parent-teacher conferences will be for sure converted into a school day.
The Hermiston School District has already held a snow make-up day on Feb. 15, but has experienced more cancellations since that time.
District spokeswoman Maria Duron wrote in an email that Superintendent Tricia Mooney will talk about the issue at a March 11 school board meeting.
Mooney had previously said that any more snow days after the first two could result in adding days to the school calendar.
While snow days are usually in the rearview mirror by March, Eastern Oregon’s late developing winter means Pendleton High School Principal Melissa Sandven is praying for no more school closures and the hard educational decisions it would entail.
Unfortunately, Pendleton and other area districts aren’t out of the woods yet.
As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service is forecasting a 50 percent chance of snow and freezing rain Tuesday and Wednesday.