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2 Hour Delay + 2 Hour Early Out = One Short School Day

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - If the kids running out the doors at Grant Wood Elementary School looked excited at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, it might be because they were coming off of a 2.5-hour school day.

That can be tricky for some parents, like Beth McDougall, to plan around.

"My youngest one who's in preschool, he didn't have school at all. Then my oldest started two hours later, and at the same time, I had an appointment. So my whole day was thrown off," McDougall said.

For others, they said they would rather have their kids in school instead of just sitting at home.

"I think a couple hours is still valuable," said Carrie Schumacher, "instead of just saying 'Well, we shouldn't have school today.'"

Mary Ellen Maske, deputy superintendent for Cedar Rapids Community Schools, said there was discussion about cancelling school early Wednesday morning, but administrators decided a little light would help bus drivers see through the fog, and be a good enough delay to make their routes safer.

"Our bus routes start very early for secondary routes, first thing in the morning," Maske said. "I don't recall ever having a late start on an early dismissal, but you can't control mother nature."

Maske said Wednesday still counts as a full school day, so they won't have to make it up later.

If the district had been on the currently optional 1,080 hour school calendar, she says it would have had to make up those missed hours elsewhere. Even though Wednesday's school schedule was extremely short, Maske assured us that students would still receive a high-quality learning experience.

"Our teachers will have to modify based on the schedule and make the most of that learning time that they have students in their classrooms," Maske explained.

The Iowa Legislature set the 1,080-hour school calendar as an option for districts in their 2013 session, but lawmakers say it looks increasingly likely that it will become the norm after the 2014 session.