Wednesday’s snowfall made this February the snowiest on record for Minnesota, and with it came another day of school closures across the state. As weather forecasts predicted an inch of snow per hour during the morning commute, Minnesota announced that all public schools would be closed.
For the St. Paul Public Schools District, Wednesday marked the sixth day of cancelled classes, putting its middle schools and high schools one day short of the minimum state requirements. According to Minnesota’s education statutes, a “student in grades 7 through 12” must complete “1,020 hours of instruction.” Additionally, a “school board’s annual school calendar may include plans for up to five days of instruction provided through online instruction due to inclement weather.”
But Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) doesn’t have any plans to hold schools accountable for falling behind state requirements, according to The Pioneer Press.
“The Governor has assured local school districts that they will not be penalized for keeping their students safe,” a spokesperson for Walz’s office said in January after St. Paul and Minneapolis schools closed for a fourth consecutive day.
At the time, Minneapolis Superintendent Ed Graff wrote to Walz requesting “some sort of waiver from the Department of Education for schools who close the next few days due to the extreme, potentially dangerous temperatures, especially since it is a statewide issue.”
As Graff noted in his letter, Minnesota hasn’t yet “hit the heaviest snowfall months of March and April,” meaning more school closures are likely on the way. Spokespeople for Minneapolis Public Schools and Stillwater Area Public Schools said that their middle schools and high schools are similarly on track to fall behind statutory requirements.
“Unfortunately, we’ll need to look at either increasing the length of our school days or adding days to the school calendar on future non-school days or at the end of the year,” spokeswoman Carissa Keister said of Stillwater Area Public Schools.
St. Paul Superintendent Joe Gothard, however, said Wednesday that he hasn’t yet looked at possible makeup days, but just wants “to make it through spring.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “St. Paul School Buses” by St. Paul Public Schools.