Jefferson Co. Schools: Make-up days not a sure thing despite 5 days of closures

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The Jefferson County 509J School District closed for the fifth school day in a row on Tuesday due to icy road conditions. While some may think that’s nearing the threshold required to extend the school year through make-up days, the district says it has had more than enough required instructional hours to cover the missed week of school — and then some.

“Our district does a very good job in planning when we put out our school year calendar, we build in many days. So by instructional hours requirements, even though we’ve had five closure days, we wouldn’t be required to make up any of those five,” Superintendent Jay Mathisen said.

Although temperatures have increased throughout the High Desert the last few days, parent Desiree Ledwith says some of the back roads on the outskirts of Madras were still slick early Monday and Tuesday morning. 

“A lot of the side streets, the country roads and especially down in Warm Springs, which is considered the 509J District, they’re not as well maintained as the highways and city streets.” Ledwith said. “I think [the school closures] were needed for a lot of the people around.”

RELATED: As weather warms, road crews switch from plowing and sanding to sweeping

Ledwith lives in the canyon on the outskirts of Madras. While some parents in the district may have been just fine to get their kids to school, for Ledwith, it would have been near impossible.

“We have had to stay home for those five days because of the snow and ice. We weren’t even able to get out of our house,” Ledwith said. 

Although the missed days are covered, the school district can still decide to add make-up days if they see fit.

“We may make up days, even if we are above the requirements for instructional hours, just because we start from a place of believing school is a place where learning can happen and we want students in school learning as many days as possible,” Mathisen said.

The school district says it has started conversations on weighing the pros and cons of adding make up days at the end of the year, but they say they want to wait for the inclement weather patterns to pass before making an official decision.  

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