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Some schools remain open on Presidents Day

Two Minnesota school districts have chosen to hold classes on Presidents Day to make up for days called off due to weather.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — While many students have the day off on Monday for the federal holiday Presidents Day, at least two school districts have decided to remain open. 

The decision comes after many schools closed due to harsh weather conditions in late January and early February. 

Because students lost so many days, schools have had to figure out ways that work for them to make up the lost time. 

Stillwater Area Public Schools and Hastings Public Schools have both decided that it works for them to hold classes on Presidents Day. 

Hastings Public Schools Superintendent Tim Collins released a statement after the district missed seven student contact days because of "snow and cold temperature."

RELATED: Minneapolis, St. Paul, other districts close school through Wednesday

"We looked at the potential dates to add back a day and we picked one of the earliest days on the calendar to add back, because there is a strong chance we will need to look at adding some other days back," Superintendent Collins' statement said.

For Stillwater Area Public Schools, middle and high school students will have a full day of classes on the holiday. In fact, five minutes will be added to the end of the day to make up for more missed time.

After missing five days of school this winter,  the district said it fell below the number of instruction hours the state requires for students in grades 6-12. 

In recent weeks, hundreds of districts called off school because of winter weather. Gov. Tim Walz said those districts would not face consequences for not reaching enough school hours this school year. Instead, he was going to let each district decide whether or not to have any make-up days.

Stillwater district officials are aware of that and say it would take legislative action to really avoid make-up days. They're encouraging parents to contact their local lawmakers.

RELATED: School districts consider creative options for making up snow days

Most districts are reporting that they will likely fall short of the state’s minimum standards for time spent in class. According to the Minnesota Department of Education, those standards require districts to have 165 days of instruction overall and 1,020 hours of instruction for students in grades 7 through 12.

“We heard people talking about that they were already one or two days worth of hours short,” said Gary Amoroso, the Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

Amoroso said he’s been working with the state education department to collect data on districts throughout the state, finding most are falling short of the state minimum. He confirmed the state school leaders are considering whether to ask Gov. Tim Walz and the state legislature for new legislation this year, that would allow them a one-year waiver from the state minimum. 

“Hopefully in the next few days, we’re going to have some additional communication about what, if anything, can be done to approach the state legislature about any type of one-time modification to these statutes,” he said.

And while they consider that strategy, all districts are also reviewing how to add more time to the classrooms – whether by taking away the President’s Day holiday, converting in-service teacher workdays to regular student instruction days, cutting down Spring Break or adding days to the end of the year. 

“Calling off schools or not calling off schools is always the most gut-wrenching decision. Because no matter what you chose to do, you had a group in your community that wasn’t happy,” Amoroso said, referring to how school leaders are simply trying to make the best of a challenging situation.

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