Arctic vortex extends Christmas Break, but not school year

Despite last week’s double school closure, there will likely be no extra days added on to the end of the school year.

“We don’t have a preexisting policy of when days off are going to require school year extension,” said Dr. Todd Flanders, headmaster. According to him, there are no plans in the works to extend the school year after two unplanned days off.

The decision to close school on Monday was due in part to Governor Mark Dayton’s pronouncement on Friday that all public schools would be cancelled. Dr. Flanders agreed that it was unsafe to have school with the cold weather.

After talking with Mr. Eric England, Coordinator of Transportation, and discussing the fact that many Providence families rely on Wayzata busing to get to and from school, Dr. Flanders decided to call off school.

“We found it entirely prudent to close on Monday,” Dr. Flanders said. “It was our own judgement.”

However, Flanders said he was skeptical when it came to canceling another consecutive day of school on Tuesday. Early on Monday, schools such as Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Minnehaha, Mounds Park, and Blake closed.

Flanders said that the decision was an uncomfortable one to make, but he ultimately decided to cancel a second day. He said he is not sure he would make the same decision again.

“Do you want to stand alone or do you want to agree with people?” he said on the issue of Tuesday’s closure.

He also said that with the low temperatures on Tuesday, the scheduled Open House for that day would have been poorly attended. It was in the school’s best interests to close for the second day in a row and reschedule the Open House.

Another difficult decision due to the closure dealt with the test schedule and forced teachers to either reschedule or cancel tests altogether. Because the two days off of school fell so close to first semester finals, the closing had a significant impact on classes.

“There’s no doubt that it’s an inconvenience,” said Dr. Flanders. “It’s a pain.”

Normally, teachers are not allowed to give assessments in the three class periods before finals, but due to the inclement weather Mr. Michael Tiffany, Academic Dean, decided to allow teachers to give tests through Friday of this week. With this exception in place, many teachers canceled or removed tests, lessened the number of review days they had previously planned for finals, or made other adjustments to their class schedules.

“I canceled two tests,” said Ms. Diane Hagner, an Upper School math teacher. “Instead, since the tests were already photocopied, I let the students take them home Wednesday night and practice the problems on their own.”

However, while tests and review days may have been affected, Upper School finals will not be impacted by the school’s closing.

“Finals are fairly fixed,” said Dr. Flanders.

Even with the inconvenience of the closure and the stress of rescheduling tests, students generally reacted well to the two-day extension of Christmas break. However, some voiced drawbacks to the days off.

“It made me not want to come back to school even more,” said Allie Wooden ‘14.

Nick Pruden ‘14, like Dr. Flanders, was skeptical that a second day off was necessary.

“Monday was a needed day off,” he said. “Tuesday, we could have had school.”

Dr. Flanders said that the student reaction had been generally favorable, while the parent reaction was “decidedly mixed.”

“But because the decision was so widespread, I have not really had any negative feedback,” he said.