Many Lowcountry students were out of school most or all of last week as Hurricane Dorian barreled up the East Coast.
Although the storm was the first weather event to impact schools this year, most South Carolina students are familiar with missing class as the result of severe weather.
Last year, the state's school districts canceled a combined total of 377 school days due to severe weather, such as Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael.
But after the storm passes and the dust settles, parents begin to wonder if their children will have to make up the days they missed.
The short answer is yes.
State law mandates that all districts incorporate at least three makeup days in their annual calendar. If schools are closed for more than three days during a school year, a district's board of trustees has the authority to decide whether to mandate any Saturday classes or to tack additional hours onto regular school days.
They also have the option to completely waive up to three days of missed instructional time completely.
After six missed days, local districts must petition the S.C. Board of Education to waive any missed class time. After nine missed days, only the General Assembly has the authority to decide if the days will be waived or made up.
Ryan Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said his office usually tends to waive missed days.
"So long as it's a major storm, which we've had pretty much every year, and the district has made up those first three days, it's been pretty much a blanket 'yes' to any district that has requested this," Brown said.
Last year, Horry County topped the list of districts with the most school days lost, with 16 days lost due to severe weather. Its current school calendar incorporates five possible makeup days.
"It has been pretty much every single year, there has been some type of major impact to South Carolina," Brown said. "So I think schools and districts have just become accustomed to that this is the new norm."
Of last year's 377 missed weather days, 263 were made up, 96 were waived by local school boards and 17 were waived by the state board of education.
Most Charleston-area students missed four school days last week after Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation order for all or portions of Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Beaufort, Colleton, Jasper, Georgetown and Horry counties. Here's their current plan to make up for that.
Charleston County School District students will make up missed class time on Nov. 25, Nov. 26 and April 13. District spokesman Andy Pruitt said it's unclear when the school board will meet to make a decision on any other missed days.
Last year, students missed five instructional days total — four due to Hurricane Florence and one to Tropical Storm Michael. Three days were made up, per state law, and the two others were waived by the board. During the 2017-18 school year, Charleston County students missed seven days total. Three were made up, three were waived by the district board of trustees and one day was waived by the state.
This year, Berkeley County schools have a new option for making up missed school days. The district is one of 15 districts statewide participating in an eLearning pilot program.
The pilot program is designed for students to complete assignments at home during scheduled makeup days on their district-issued Chromebooks. Teachers will report to school as normal and communicate by phone to support students who are working from home.
The first severe-weather makeup day is scheduled for Oct. 25. Other scheduled makeup days are March 13 and April 10.
"Berkeley County School District will be utilizing eLearning Days on those dates, allowing students to make up instruction time lost while preserving teacher work days," said Brian Troutman, a district spokesman. He said the district will make accommodations for primary-age students and those without internet access.
Last year, Berkeley County students lost five days of school due to inclement weather. Students made up three days and the board waived two days.
Dorchester District 2
Dorchester District 2 has three severe weather makeup days scheduled for Nov. 11, Feb. 14 and April 10.
"In the past several years, when we have missed more than our three days that we've made up, our school board has indeed voted to waive the additional days," said Pat Raynor, a district spokeswoman.
Raynor said she does not know when the board will make a decision regarding the fourth day students missed.
Last year, the district missed five days of school for weather and one day for the SC for Ed Statehouse rally. Of those, four were made up and two were waived by the district's board of trustees.
Dorchester District 4
Dorchester District 4 students also missed class Tuesday through Friday last week.
The district's tentatively scheduled makeup days are Oct. 18, Feb. 14 and April 10, according to Yulonda Rivers, a human resources assistant in the district office.
Rivers said these makeup dates are still pending the school board's approval. Board members are expected to vote to on the days at their next meeting on Thursday.