Rockdale was one of the few counties that canceled its winter break last week to make up for the five snow days in January, a decision that irked parents and teachers who had vacation plans already in place. However, the Rockdale Citizen is reporting that attendance of students and teachers was close to normal for the week.
My own system chose not to make up all the snow days. It preserved last week’s winter break because of families and teachers with travel plans. I was one of the parents with plans, but would have canceled them and sent my twins to school. But I didn’t have large deposits at stake, which was not true for teachers and families with non-refundable airline tickets, cruise reservations or rooms at Disney hotels.
On the Citizen web site, a few Rockdale parents complained that their children’s teachers were absent so students watched movies in classes. But it is not clear to me whether those absent teachers were at professional development training or taking time off because they had vacations they couldn’t cancel without penalties.
According to the Citizen:
In a preliminary report to the school board Thursday night, Richard Autry, chief academic officer in the Office of Teaching and Learning, said the attendance rate for students from Monday to Thursday was 94 percent. The week before the break, the rate was 95.9 percent.
“That is nearly 15,000 students,” said Autry, who was filling in for RCPS Superintendent Samuel King, who was out of town at a conference.
He expressed the system’s “sincere gratitude and appreciation toward parents, students and teachers” who came to school during the week and realized the importance of not missing a large block of school.
An average of 57 teachers per day, or 5.1 percent, were absent during the week due to preplanned activities, according to Cindy Ball, director of Community Relations at RCPS.
Additionally, she said a total of 591 substitute teachers were used during the week. Of this, 218 subs, or 37 percent, were used to cover for the teachers absent due to preplanned activities.
Autry said RCPS is expected to have a final number of student and staff attendance for the entire week by Tuesday.
Some parents have said their students were being taught by substitute teachers, and some students said they watched movies for part of the week. But some teachers also taught special Presidents Day lessons and held special activities for students.
Parent Julia Brown said it seemed to be a normal week for her two elementary and middle school students.
“I was surprised (that attendance was high),” she said. “I thought more would be out this week, but it hasn’t been a big deal.”
Sherri Alderson, also a parent of an elementary and a middle school student, said she wasn’t sure what her kids did in the classroom over the week but knows they had homework every night.
“It was annoying to be notified about it three weeks ahead of time, but my kids went to school, and it was business as usual,” she said.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog