Take Two: DeKalb Schools announces new plan for Irma make-up days

The DeKalb County School District leadership has nixed initial plans of how to make up school days lost when the storm known as Irma pushed heavy winds and rain into metro Atlanta.

District officials announced late Wednesday that schools would extend the school day 20 minutes during the month of October, and that students would attend school on election day, Nov. 7. Two additional make-up days will be decided using input from “its principals, parent groups and community stakeholder groups.”

“The final decision will be filtered through a collaborative process driven by one shared desire from both the board and myself: to protect and recover instructional time, especially for those students most at risk,” Superintendent Steve Green said in the announcement.

Irma made landfall in south Florida on Sept. 10 as a category 3 hurricane, causing billions of dollars in damage in its march through the southeast United States. It was a tropical storm by the time it hit the Georgia State line, and was not a direct hit on metro Atlanta. Still, the storm knocked down trees and powerlines and made travel in the area dangerous. 

DeKalb County School District officials closed school Sept. 11 and reopened on Sept. 15.

Initially, district officials announced the school day would be extended 20 minutes for the rest of the fall semester, which ends Dec. 20, as well as reinstating Nov. 7 as an instructional day. Several members of the DeKalb Board of Education said the approach to the make-up days came up during a recent board retreat.

“My perception is the general feel of the board was that we would prefer to go a different route,” board member Stan Jester said, adding he was “not a fan” of extending the school day. “I expressed to the superintendent that I would like to reclaim the inclement weather day and the election day.”

DeKalb Schools had one official inclement weather day on its calendar — a February teacher planning day — and toyed with the idea of taking back an upcoming fall break on Oct. 5 and 6.

Technically, the district does not have to make up the four days lost during — and recovering from — Irma, as DeKalb County declared a state of emergency. Green said last week he did not want students to miss out on the lost instructional time.

District officials have said substitute teachers would not receive additional pay for the extended school days.

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Police are now warning others to be careful