Baltimore County students and parents got a surprise last week when they learned a half-day may be added to the school calendar following a winter where the system reached its six alotted snow days.

The reason is a little-known state requirement about minutes. Students have to go to school for 180 days, and 1,080 hours for elementary and middle grades and 1,170 hours for high school grades.

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The county's elementary and middle grades meet the requirement. But high school students are 19 hours short because of weather delays, according to George Duque, manager of staff relations for the school system and the head of the calendar committee.

Once the school board votes Tuesday to add 31/2 hours on April 2, high school students still won't have met the state requirement. In the past, the school system has asked for waivers from the state, but Duque said no decision has been made on whether to seek another waiver.

Baltimore County high school students go to school for just 61/2 hours a day, less than most around the state.

Delays left the Howard County Public School high school students four hours short of the scheduled 1,182 hours of instruction. Pending a waiver from the state Board of Education, schools will dismiss two hours early on June 18.

Carroll County will shorten its spring break by two days — approving Wednesday make-up days on March 30 and 31 — and add one day — June 12, originally a professional development day — to the end of the school year.

Anne Arundel County, which has had six snow days, is cutting one day — March 30 — from spring break, and Harford County, which has had 10 snow days, will take away two days of spring break — April 9 and 10.

Baltimore City used all five of its extra days in the calendar by closing for inclement weather.

Reporters Blair Ames and Lauren Loricchio contributed to this article.

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