• Local school district considers scrapping winter break

    By: Heather Hegedus

    Updated:

    SALEM, Mass. - When snow slams our area, most schools have no choice but to close, adding extra days on to the end of the school year. But one district is rethinking its school calendar and breaks. 

    Officials in Salem have sent a survey to parents seeking feedback on changes they are considering, despite the fact that Salem Public Schools have not had a single snow day this year. 

    During a busy winter, like what we saw in 2015, we know how snow days can cause problems for school districts who have to find a way to make up the missed days.

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    So, the school committee and Mayor of Salem - who is also the chairwoman of the school committee, put out a survey asking parents if they would support doing away with February and/or April vacation and replace it with long weekends around Presidents' Day and Patriots' Day. They're also considering replacing it with a March vacation or a longer December vacation. 

    One grandparent of a student in the district tells us rethinking the school calendar is a good idea.

    "I like the getting rid of April vacation. It seems like every time they get into school after vacation they're all restless and then the next thing you know they're having another vacation again," said Melinda Morin.

    Boston 25 News reached out to Mayor Kim Driscoll for comment:

    "Very often we'll have a winter snow storm that really impacts the number of days that Salem students are in school.

    We've asked ourselves in the past if this is something at which we should really look more closely, so that's what we're undertaking now. We normally take up the school calendar in April each year, but when it comes to this issue that's a little too late. So far this year we've avoided having a lot of major snow delays, but we've definitely had some rougher winters in the past. In a city like Salem, where we use our school lots for off-street snow emergency parking for residents, snow parking bans can have impacts on schools and trigger even snow days.

    We're also trying to look at this in a regional context, since we have plenty of staff in the district who have kids and live in another community, or Salem parents who are staff and teachers in other districts. I'm looking forward to hearing more of the community feedback from all of our schools' stakeholders as this study continues."

    The survey was launched on February 1 and will be online throughout the month. The school committee will then look at the results and decide the next steps. So far, the district says they've received about 1,500 responses. 

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