SSFS Families,


With the vagaries of Maryland weather and calendars from year to year, we sometimes find ourselves in a dance around snow days and Maryland State Dept. of Education (DOE) requirements. This year is a good example where we scheduled the required 170 instructional days of school, plus the three required weather days. With today's closing, we have used all three of these reserve days. And, we have not yet reached February and early March where our worst storms have historically occurred. There is a very real possibility that we will need to reclaim days in order to meet our state requirements. This email outlines our plan if we miss additional days of school and need to make adjustments. Here, in order, are the changes we will make in order to compensate for missed school days:


1: April 8th Professional Day becomes a school day for MS and US.  LS proceeds with scheduled parent conferences.

2: February 19th Professional Development Day becomes a school day (1:00 pm dismissal), with PD activities shortened and squeezed into the afternoon. This change would be made if we know in time that a second day is needed, otherwise we would move on to #3.  Some background: We are reluctant to compromise important, planned February 19th professional day activities if we don't need to, which is why this is not #1. We would need to miss more than two days between now and about February 8th to utilize this option.  If, for example, we were to have a major storm next week and miss several days, we would look to take back both February 19th but also Monday, February 18th (President's Day) in order to keep later options open.  

3: At the end of the year: June 7 becomes a full day, and June 8 becomes a school day with a 1:00 pm dismissal. Many end-of year events on those two days would shift, though graduation and 8th Grade Recognition Night (for example) would not change. 

4: Monday, May 27th becomes a school day (Memorial Day)

5: Monday, June 10th becomes a school day (no change to graduation)

6: Tuesday, June 11th becomes a school day.

7: Wednesday, June 12th, etc. 


A few additional notes for those interested:

  • Should we have a harsh winter, and many Maryland school districts are missing many days, the DOE in the past has allowed schools to apply for an exemption to the required minimum. SSFS applied for and received an exemption one year a few years ago. However, a waiver is not guaranteed, and we would need to demonstrate that we have taken steps to adjust our calendar already. I imagine we would seek a waiver once we have passed option 3 or 4 above.

  • We explored the possibility of reclaiming days from the March spring break. However, by the time we are likely to know if we need additional days, it will be very difficult for families, faculty, dorm staff, etc. to all shift plans made for such a long break. It did not seem realistic.

  • We are exploring options for an "distance learning" school day in lieu of a school day. In simple terms, teachers would post school work for students online by an announced time in the morning, and students would be expected to complete this work at home as their school day. For us to go this direction, we need to fulfill some expectations:  First, the work needs to be meaningful advancement of the curriculum in each subject, not just "busy work." Second, we need to be able to effectively create this for enough subjects, and for enough grade levels, that we feel that it is a fair learning equivalent to a day in school.  It is assumed that this approach would not be appropriate for, for example, our youngest students. Third, we need to feel comfortable that enough students will be able to participate to provide validity as a school-wide approach.  Not every family has internet access at home, and severe storms can affect utilities for others. Fourth, we need to assure ourselves that we can address possible DOE concerns. This is probably most realistic for the 2019-2020 school year and after because of the need to  educate teachers, students, and families about requirements and expectations.

Please know that we seek to protect the integrity of our academic program, meet State requirements, respect family plans connected to long weekends and holidays, and also err on the side of safety with regard to transportation of students.  We acknowledge that there is no solution that will satisfy everyone's preferences, but we hope that some insight into our thinking, and a heads-up about our planning, will be helpful to you.


In peace, 


David Hickson

Interim Head of School

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