‘Polar Vortex’ raises snow days questions for Lake Orion schools about adding school days

By Megan Kelley

Review Writer

Lake Orion Community School’s (LOCS) were closed four out of the five scheduled school days last week due to what was being called a “Polar Vortex” that had hit most of the midwest.

Temperatures hit as low as negative 12 degrees and with the combination of wind chill, the only choice for many districts in the area was to cancel school Monday through Thursday.

Rumors circled through the Facebook group, the Lake Orion Chat Room, regarding possible issues with so many snow days having been used up already.

“Michigan K-12 districts must provide 180 days of instruction to K-8 students and 181 days for 9-12 students and at least 1,098 hours of instruction during that time,” said schools Superintendent Marion Ginopolis in a blog post.

“If those requirements are not met, districts are at risk of not receiving their full State School Aid funding.”

To date, LOCS has had eight snow days – two more than the six allotted to the district.

While this could mean that students will lose vacation days or have days added on to the end of the school year, that is not currently that case according to Ginopolis.

“Districts can request an extra three days from the state superintendent once the original six days are used up,” Ginopolis explained.

In order to receive these additional three days the district will have to file what is known as an “additional forgiven time waiver” with the state superintendent.

While the request is not automatically approved, this would give Lake Orion nine total canceled school days.

Another important note is the state of emergency that was declared by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It is entirely possible that some of the canceled school days last week will be automatically forgiven due to the state of emergency, but that decision has yet to be made.

Should the canceled days remain, Ginopolis is prepared to file the “additional forgiven time waiver.”

While students were disappointed to hear that after six consecutive days off (four snow days and Saturday and Sunday) their scheduled exams were definitely going to take place on Friday, Ginopolis was clear that at no point were exams going to be canceled.

“Student’s have to take exams, I was not going to cancel those,” she said citing many responses from high school students on social media begging her to cancel exams.

Ginopolis has not made any decisions regarding additional school days and said she will not do so until the district is further into the year.