Dubuque School District adding 25 minutes onto school day to make up for snow days

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- The Dubuque Community School District announced to families today that it will add 25 minutes onto the end of each school day to make up for cancellations, delays, and early releases related to winter weather.

This policy will take effect on Monday, March 4th, according to a message sent to families on Wednesday. To view a list of each school's new start time, click here. 

In the message, Superintendent Stan Rheingans said the district's goal is to ensure added instruction time maximizes student learning and to meet the state required 1,080 hours of instruction.

Rheingans also stated Wednesday's school cancellation set a record for the most snow days in one school year.

The full message read:

Dear Families,

To the best of my knowledge, today’s school cancellation set the record for the most snow days in one school year. More significantly, these days have come in an unrelenting, continuous stretch of weather that seems to never end.

Please know that we understand the significant impact these schedule changes place on families and we greatly appreciate the accommodations you have made to adjust your family’s schedule.

We certainly share your frustration, but assure you that our ability to safely get students to and from school is our foremost concern. Student safety is the guiding factor in any decision to delay, cancel or release early.

As we look forward, we have two priorities:

•    First, and most important, to ensure that any added student instructional time maximizes student learning to the fullest extent possible.

•    Second, to ensure that we meet the required 1,080 hours of instruction required by Iowa Code.

TO ACHIEVE THIS, WE WILL ADD 25 MINUTES TO THE END OF EACH SCHOOL DAY BEGINNING ON MONDAY, MARCH 4. This additional time will be fully dedicated to academic instruction and content. We’ve posted a list of adjusted end times for each school on our website for your convenience. With the change, the last day of school will remain at Friday, June 7.

Please know that we have spent many hours exploring possible options and the impact those options place on families and our community as a whole.

The additional minutes will move us back to positive hours and provide some extra time to accommodate additional weather-related changes. While it has been suggested that we begin by eliminating Friday-morning late arrivals, doing so without adding time to the school day will still not provide enough hours to meet the state requirement. Should weather over the next six weeks deplete the bank of hours generated by adding time to the school day, we will revisit making adjustments to the Friday schedule.

There have been some questions about spring break and the potential of using these days to make up snow days. With spring break on the schedule for the past two years, many families and employers throughout the community have already made travel plans or other schedule adjustments during that week. It would also be impossible to have the 1,800 staff members in place needed to operate our schools.

We have also received a number of questions about conducting e-learning days of instruction. Iowa Code does not allow for virtual-learning days to be counted as required instructional time.

Thank you again for your flexibility and patience during this extreme winter. All of us are eager to have our students return to school.

Sincerely,

Stan Rheingans

Superintendent of Schools