Current Status of Instructional Time Due to Weather Changes/Closures

As of February 12, 2020

The Commonwealth of Virginia requires a minimum of 180 school days each year (or a minimum of 990 instructional hours if you fall below the 180 days due to emergency closures). For the 2019-20 school year, the approved calendar for PWCS had 180 school days at all levels.

In 2018, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation (from SB273) that allows the Board of Education and local School Boards to include recess in calculations of instructional time. The relevant section of Virginia Code is included below.

§ 22.1-200.2. Minimum instructional time; optional unstructured recreational time. (2018 updated section):

A. Local school boards shall provide (i) a minimum of 680 hours of instructional time to students in elementary school, except for students in half-day kindergarten, in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science and (ii) a minimum of 375 hours of instructional time to students in half-day kindergarten in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science.

B. Local school boards may include and the Board of Education shall accept, for elementary school, unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours, provided that such unstructured recreational time does not exceed 15 percent of total instructional time or teaching hours.

Since PWCS has additional time beyond state minimums in terms of the length of the school day, the approved PWCS calendar included additional instructional hours beyond the 990 hour state requirement since students at all levels receive six hours and ten minutes of instructional time per day (not including lunch but including recess per the new legislation).

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In the approved calendar, PWCS had built in the equivalent of approximately 18 days’ worth of hours above the 990-hour requirement. With the School Board calendar change, two closures, three delayed openings, and one early release, PWCS has just approximately 13 1/2 days’ worth of hours remaining before we would fall under the state minimum requirement.


AlertCalendar Change for the 2019-20 School Year

 On February 11, 2020, the Prince William County School Board approved a calendar change that makes March 3, 2020 (Presidential Primary Day) a student holiday.

 


Weather Schedule Changes for the 2019-20 School Year

As of February 12, 2020

Closings

December 16, 2019  Code Red

January 8, 2020  Code Red

Delays/Early Release due to weather

December 11, 2019 — Two-hour delayed opening

December 13, 2019 — Two-hour delayed opening

January 7, 2020  Two-hour early release

January 9, 2020  Two-hour delayed opening

In some years the winter months are very mild and we get little to no snow or bad weather, causing many people to ask if the school year will end earlier. The short answer is no.

Why? As a learning organization, PWCS values the importance of as much instructional time as possible for our students. The current PWCS planned school year exceeds the 990-hour state requirement because of the length of the student day. The additional time (hours) is converted to “days” that can be used in the event of inclement weather. An advantage of the built-in hours is that days do not need to be added on at the end of the year or to the school day, as was done in years past, when too many snow days were used. 

There is no means for days to be given back at the end of the year because those additional “days” are simply the excess time beyond 990 hours and, if the days were given back, PWCS would fall short of the required 180-day school year. In addition, teacher contracts (mostly 195 days in length) are based on a 6.5 hour day and are tied to the number of school days per year with teacher workdays included.