Goreville Schools out of “Snow Days”
School officials, teachers and students alike returned to school Friday after something of an extended Christmas break due to severe weather that shut down much of the region over the past weeks.
With only five “Emergency Days” set aside for the school year, as required by State law, Goreville has notified the Regional Office of Education of their additional closings and has applied for a designation of “Act of God,” which allows the school district to maintain its normal calendar, Superintendent of Goreville Community Unit School District #1, Dr. Steve Webb said.
“There have been several years where we have used all of our emergency days, typically in one-or-two day intervals spanning the winter season,” Webb said in comparing the number of snow days used this year to past years.
With most of the severe weather hitting the region over the holidays, Goreville has so far only used eight emergency days and will only need to apply for three “Act of God” days so far this year. Although more winter weather is possible, Webb said the safety of the students come first and the school would close again if necessary.
“There is nothing brave about trying to have school if there is any chance that a child might be at risk of harm due to the condition of the roads,” Webb said.
While Goreville Schools lies in town and is relatively accessible in inclement weather to those nearby, its student body is largely rural and winter weather combined with bus routes that are mainly on oil and chip blacktop—or unpaved single lane roads in rugged and steep areas—quickly amounts to dangerous conditions in that same weather. Before schools were penalized for not providing transportation they would open in inclement weather and those that made it, made it, and those that did not, did not.
“Rural school districts are at a significant disadvantage in regards to wintery weather due to the lack of resources of the rural counties for dealing with inclement weather,” Webb said.
Despite the number of days Goreville has missed due to weather, it will still finish its year come May 29 with teachers and students making the adjustments required to get there.
“Fortunately, the last four Emergency Days were during a semester break so the new semester, which is already a few days longer than the first semester, has now started and the teachers must adjust their lesson plans to cover the required material by the end of the semester,” Webb said, adding that students should not experience “double” homework to make up for lost time.
“Emergency Days in a rural school are nothing new to teachers,” Webb said. “They adapt regularly to disruptions.”