Schools Can Apply to Waive Missed Days during State of Emergency for Storm

Several school districts have canceled school this week due to the winter storm. Many have asked about the possibility of waiving those missed days. Below is Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s statement.

OLYMPIA — February 12, 2019 — On February 8, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation declaring a statewide state of emergency related to this week’s winter storm. We expect the proclamation to be lifted at midnight on February 15, 2019.

State law allows the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to waive missed school days, and school districts will have the opportunity to apply to waive days that were missed while the state of emergency was in effect. However, there is no legal authority to waive the mandatory average of 1,027 hours of instruction for students.

Even when a waiver is granted for missed days during a state of emergency declared by the governor, school districts are required to meet the average total instructional hour offerings. Most districts have a daily schedule that more than ensures they meet 1,027 hours even if they reduce their total days by two or three. When that can’t be achieved, districts will continue to meet their required hours by eliminating release days, adding days to the end of the year, or by any other means legally provided to local school boards.

Some members of the public have expressed concern about the potential need to move graduation dates as a result of missed days. This is entirely a local decision, but past experience has shown us districts do not typically need to move graduation dates as a result of severe weather or makeup days that may be necessary.

Although storms and events like this can disrupt school districts’ planned yearly calendars, there are many ways to make up instructional hours and I am confident our schools will plan accordingly. We do not expect districts to apply for waivers until we are completely through the winter season, and all of the unforeseen weather impacts are behind us.