Now that the polar vortex is in the past, will school children have to make up any of the five snow days they had off last week?

Area school superintendents say they don’t think so.

School districts are allowed up to six days of forgiven time, commonly called snow days, for conditions not within control of school authorities, such as severe storms, fires, water or sewer failure, epidemics or power outages. Friday was the seventh snow day for many school districts in Southwest Michigan.

Under state law, school districts can request another three days to be forgiven when “pupil instruction is not provided in a district due to unusual and extenuating occurrences resulting from conditions not within the control of school authorities.”

If their districts exceed six snow days, school officials must ask that the days be forgiven through a waiver, and they must be approved by the state superintendent.

“Based on the circumstances, I don’t see that as being an issue,” Lakeshore Public Schools Superintendent Phil Freeman said.

St. Joseph Public Schools Superintendent Ann Cardon agreed, saying that if the seventh snow day isn’t forgiven, the school year will have to be extended by a day.

“We have no full days scheduled off for the rest of the year except for Memorial Day,” she said.

School districts that exceed the allowed number of snow days face losing some of their State School Aid money unless the time is made up or waived.

Cardon said she probably will wait until the end of February before requesting the waiver in case there are any additional snow days.

“Hopefully, we’re done with winter,” she said.

Freeman said another way for additional snow days to be added would be for the state Legislature to pass a resolution.

He said a lot of thought goes into each decision, with area superintendents talking to each other and to the local sheriff before deciding to call a snow day.

“Each one of those days, we made the call based on the safety of our students,” he said. 

And he said he makes each decision based on what is happening that day.

“The number of days we’ve had off has no bearing on the next decision that I make,” he said. “We’re going to continue to make decisions that way. We do what’s right for the safety of the kids.”

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege