October’s super storm Sandy closed local schools for an entire week and district officials are now mulling over whether to cancel February’s winter break session to make up for lost classroom instruction time.
The Sayville Board of Education is expected to make a decision at its next meeting on December 6, and the Bayport-Blue Point Board of Education may announce its intentions at its next meeting on December 4.
B-BP Interim School Superintendent Neil Lederer is recommending the board use four days of the five-day break week for school instruction.
At the BOE workshop session on November 20 Lederer urged the board to make a decision as quickly as possible so that staff, students and students’ families have as much notice as possible given trips likely already planned.
“I do think we need to make up at least three of those class days,” he said, adding that the February week of the 18 to the 22 is a better time frame for class make-up given the religious holidays occurring within the Spring break week.
He also asked administrators to poll staff about February break attendance to gauge potential substitute teaching costs.
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A majority of Patch readers, who provided comment on Patch’s Facebook and a poll on the topic, aren’t too keen about districts canceling the February break however.
Many believe students need the time off and that most students will continue to do well in school even with the class time lost thanks to Sandy
“I don’t think they should as it’s not the kids fault the hurricane happened,” wrote Ginger Briefs.
“Some of these kids have been through enough taking away there [sic] vacation because we had a state of emergency and evacuations is wrong, some people have trips and things planned, add to the end of the year if they must replace these days!” wrote Elisa Schmidt.
Andrea Gallo DiLoreto agrees with Schmidt’s assessment.
“No way! Winter break should not be cancelled. It is not the fault of anyone but Mother Nature that the kids were out of school. The days they were out were most likely filled with stress, no power, and possibly cleaning up their homes or relocating. We have highly skilled teachers in Sayville, and intelligent students. Between the 2, I am sure they are mostly caught up by now. I say just let it be....let all have their vacations,” she wrote.
Christine Blander-Mendez was one of the few advocating using the break time. She said she expects the decision will ultimately come down to whether most of the staff will go on vacation even if the week is cancelled.
“Then we will know. I believe that Feb. vacation is a waste because they were just off in December for nine days. No wonder we are failing our students in the big picture i.e. China and Europe, I believe they go to school all year! So with that said cancel it. Too bad sometimes you have to sacrifice a vaca for the betterment of our children,” she wrote.
Michelle Messina Koerner said that while she is “all about kids going to school,” she believes they are entitled to a break as are the teachers.
“People have plans and to make comments like "poor them", "too bad", "guess we need to survey teachers to see how many need to go on vacation" is just silly. Whether it’s a planned vacation, time with family, work around the house, etc. it's planned long before the storm or because of the storm and no one, teachers, admin staff, students, etc. should be penalized as a result of the storm,”she wrote. “Anybody realize what that week is going to be like if they take it away, all the absent students, all the absent teachers, it will be a joke for the kids to even be there!!"
In a lighter vein, reader Heidi Nemith said she’s all for canceling the vacation week as long as local families aren’t headed for snowy areas.
“If it keeps everyone off the slopes President's week then I'm all for it! Stay in school!” she wrote.