By Richie Carni
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
EAST LANSING—The heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures have caused difficulties for students and staff at East Lansing High School as they transition into the new semester.
Clifford Seybert, superintendent at East Lansing High School, said they have already used five of their six allowed snow days, and added he will have a plan ready if the school exceeds its designated amount.
“There are two ways you could do it: extend the school year by whatever days you’ve missed, or work within the confines of the days that you have and extend the time of dismissal. Which would equate to essentially the same thing over a period of time,” said Seybert, who has spent nearly 13 years in the district.
On Wednesday, the Michigan Board of Education unanimously adopted a statement encouraging districts to replace snow days beyond six with full days of instruction instead of by adding hours to remaining days. Districts that do not meet for enough days will lose some state aid.
Seybert said the weather-related difficulties, for the most part, come with the territory.
“That’s the reality of living in Michigan, and this year has been quite extraordinary in my experience. Particularly in Mid-Michigan, we typically don’t have that level of missed school days,” Seybert said. “I think the combination of snow accumulation and temperatures, temperatures being equally problematic, have caused us to simply miss days.”
John Brandenburg, principal at East Lansing High School, said the inclement weather has made it harder on teachers.
“It’s hard for teachers that have planned for students to be there. Every day of school is important,” said Brandenburg, who was an educator for many years.
Brandenburg also said the abundance of school cancellations can cause teachers to make changes within their classes.
“It just makes it hard to keep up with your curriculum. It makes it so that you have to consolidate your content and make some adjustments,” Brandenburg said.
Seybert said the accumulation of snow days has potential to hinder students’ learning opportunities as well.
“When kids are out of school they lose that continuity, and so regaining that continuity by extending some time for kids to understand the concepts that you are trying to teach would be important for individual teachers and students,” Seybert said.
Looking forward, Seybert said he was optimistic about the weather, and added the well-being of the students is still the top priority.
“Well I think that, fortunately, we are through the worst of it,” Seybert said. “I anticipate not having to use the day that we have, but if we do we will for the safety of students.”