Students lose February break

SEYMOUR — Mother Nature has put a damper on the school district’s February vacation.
Instead of having Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 18 and 19, off as planned for the Presidents holidays, students and staff will now be in school those two days.
That’s the decision the Board of Education unanimously made during a Feb. 13 special meeting.
The vote to eliminate the February break was necessary to make up for the town schools being closed since last Friday after Mother Nature dumped at least three feet of snow on the region.
Town roads had been crippled, and school parking lots were buried under mounds of the white stuff for days.
Superintendent of Schools Christine Syriac sent a message out to parents, informing them of the board’s decision.
“Over the past several days many of you have shared suggestions on how to manage this unprecedented situation we are experiencing with school closings,” Syriac said in her memo to parents. “As you can imagine not all the suggestions were the same, and therefore any decision that the Board of Education makes would be welcomed by some, and unwelcomed by others. I wish that I knew of a way to make everyone happy, and I genuinely appreciated all your suggestions.”
By eliminating the February break, the last day of school is now June 27.
Syriac said while taking away the break might not make everyone happy, it was the best way to go. She also acknowledged that families may have already made plans for the holiday, and said students will not be penalized if they’re not in school Monday and Tuesday. She did encourage parents, however, to notify their child’s school if they’re going to be absent.
“If as a family you had plans scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, I would suggest that you not alter those plans,” Syriac said. “Time with family is important; family adventures are opportunities for learning and are an important element of our children’s lives.”
Syriac also said the district is not violating state law by opening school on Monday and Tuesday, which are considered legal holidays. She said state statute “does permit schools to open on legal holidays,” except for during the months of December and January.
With winter still in full swing, Board of Education Chairman Yashu Putorti said if another snow day forces the schools to close, the last day of school will be bumped up to June 28. And any additional snow days after that will then start to cut into April vacation, he said.
“I would love to tell you that there will be no more closings this school year; however, it is too soon to state that,” Syriac said.
Putorti said school officials did get in touch with staff members to see who already had plans for the February break, and who would be available. As a result, he said, the district will need to bring in 22 substitute teachers on Monday, Feb. 18, and 15 subs on Tuesday, Feb. 19, to ensure there will be full staff coverage district-wide.

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