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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Alachua County schools need to make up 600 minutes. This is how they're doing it.

<p>A girl stares out the window of an Alachua County school bus on West University Avenue.</p>

A girl stares out the window of an Alachua County school bus on West University Avenue.

The school day just got longer for Alachua County Public School students — but only by seven minutes.

On Tuesday, the district announced the school-day extension will last from Jan. 17 to June 1, a day before school lets out, to make up for the 600 minutes missed last week.

The added time will make up for two days of classes, Wednesday and Thursday, lost due to cold weather and possible black ice, according to a press release. The National Weather Service and local emergency management informed ACPS that driving school buses in the conditions would be hazardous, said ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson.

“For safety's sake, the decision was made to close schools,” Johnson said in an email.

The state mandates the time is made up, but the schools will decide how to spend the extra minutes, the release said.

During Hurricane Irma, the school system canceled school for six days and the state required it make up four. ACPS scheduled school on three days that are built into the academic calendar in case school needs to be canceled — Dec. 18, Dec. 19 and April 2 — and Jan. 2, according to the press release.

Parents had mixed reactions to the day extensions. After the district posted the extension to social media, Facebook commenters thought the extra time was insignificant in the school day, while others praised school district officials for not adding on days to the end of the year, June 4 and 5, which was considered.

Lisa Worthy said her daughter, a Gainesville High School tenth grader, Rachel, watched movies during the days added in December and would likely do the same during the added days in June. While Worthy said the one minute added to each class period won’t have a large impact on Rachel’s education, it is a better option than sending students to school after finals.

“I think this was a good decision on the part of the district as a solution to making up the missed instructional time,” Worth said.

Staff Writer Robert Lewis contributed to this report.

Contact Meryl Kornfield at mkornfield@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @merylkornfield

A girl stares out the window of an Alachua County school bus on West University Avenue.

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