Harford County Public Schools officials are still waiting on a decision from the Maryland State Department of Education on whether the early school closing on Feb. 3 will count as a full school day.
If the school system gets dispensation that allows the abbreviated school day to count as a full school day, it will have used 11 bad weather days this school year. If not, it will be an even dozen days of missed school.
On Feb. 3, Harford schools opened at their normal time, amid weather reports of harsh winter weather headed to the area. Around 9 a.m., school officials announced schools would be closing early on a special schedule, with students only spending about 2 1/2 hours in school.
High schools and North Harford Middle, which start at 7:30 a.m., dismissed at 10 a.m. (30 minutes after the last elementary students arrived at their schools); middle schools, which start at 8:15 a.m., and the John Archer School dismissed at 10:45 a.m. Elementary schools, which start at 9 a.m., and pre-K dismissed at 11:30 a.m.; and fourth tier schools, which start at 9:30 a.m., dismissed at noon.
According to Chapter 7, Section 103 of the Maryland Annotated Code, schools "shall be open for pupil attendance a minimum of three hours during each school day."
Jillian Lader, the newly hired manager of communications for HCPS, said the school district submitted a waiver to the MSDE on Feb. 19.
"At this time we are awaiting a response from the State Department," Lader said in an email.
More days missed
Decisions by Harford County Public Schools officials to close schools on March 3 and 17 because of snow and other adverse weather conditions pushed the county to 11 instructional days missed this year, not including either professional development days when students were already off, or the brief Feb. 3 day, because of inclement weather.
Eight of those days missed will be made up: four at the end of the year, June 10 to 13, and four during spring speak, April 14-17. But for the other three days, HCPS will have to ask the Maryland State Board of Education for a waiver.
According to Chapter 7, Section 103 of the Maryland Annotated Code, schools must be open for students for at least 180 school days and a minimum of 1,080 school hours during a 10-month school year.
Lader said the school district will not submit waivers for the three outlying days students missed school until "we are beyond the inclement weather season as has been our practice for the additional inclement weather closures."
And there's a bit more winter weather in next week's forecast.