How Tampa Bay area schools are making up Hurricane Irma-missed days

Schools can cut back year by 2 days due to storm
Schools can cut back year by 2 days due to storm
Schools can cut back year by 2 days due to storm
Posted at 6:18 AM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 12:09:44-04

Florida schools forced to close due to Hurricane Irma can trim their academic calendar by two days.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart on Tuesday sent a memo to school superintendents regarding school time lost due to the deadly storm. Some schools across the state were closed for more than a week due to the hurricane.

Florida law requires schools to operate 180 days a year, or up to 720 hours for kindergarten through third grade and 900 hours for all other grades.

In her memo, Stewart said she would authorize waiving up to 2 days due to the storm.

But districts that want more time waived will have to ask for permission from the state by Oct. 16.

Below are the plans Tampa Bay area school districts will use to help make up missed school days during Hurricane Irma (Last update as of 9/21/2017):



Hillsborough County Public Schools will convert four Early Release Days into regular school days, beginning October 23, to make up for missed classroom time due to Hurricane Irma. 

Instead of dismissing an hour early, school will dismiss at its normal time on the following dates: Monday, October 23, October 30, November 6 and November 13. This change will allow students at all grade levels to meet the state’s requirements for time spent in class during the first semester. 

Even though seven school days were missed due to the hurricane, Hillsborough County Public Schools builds additional instructional time into its calendar each year. This extra time allows our district to use these four early release days to make-up the state-required time.

The district’s leadership recognizes that Early Release Days provide valuable planning time for teachers, so this option was coordinated with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, to make sure it would preserve other teacher work days and vacation days, while also allowing our students to get the class time they need. 


•         10 minutes will be added to the end of the school day for all students, starting Monday, October 2, 2017 through Wednesday, December 20, 2017
•         Wednesday, October 4th and Wednesday, December 6th will no longer be Professional Learning Early Release days; instead students will attend school for a full day on both days
•         Thanksgiving break will begin on Wednesday, November 22, 2017. Monday, November 20, 2017 and Tuesday, November 21, 2017 students will attend school for a full day; These dates were assigned on the 2017-2018 Academic Calendar as “Hurricane Make-Up Days”



After receiving confirmation from the Florida commissioner of education that the state is forgiving the two days Governor Rick Scott ordered all Florida schools closed for Hurricane Irma, Pasco County Schools leaders have determined that the other four hurricane days can be made up without cancelling planned days off.  We will not have school any day during Thanksgiving week and no days will be added to the end of the school year.  
A total of 11 schools are adjusting their bell schedules to add additional student contact minutes for the rest of the year.  Most schools had enough student contact time built into their schedules to meet statutory requirements and do not have to make any adjustments.  
Those schools that are adding time to class schedules are doing so by having shorter passing time between classes, reducing the length of home room, or starting earlier or dismissing later.  None of these changes take any teacher below the contractual minimums for weekly planning time, daily planning periods, or daily lunch time.  

Following is a summary of the changes, which are effective Monday, September 25:

  1. Ridgewood High School – Decreasing lunch passing by 2 minutes and adding that time to first period.
  2. JW Mitchell High School – Starting 2 minutes earlier (8:28 a.m.).
  3. Sunlake High School – Starting 2 minutes earlier (7:28 a.m.).
  4. Wiregrass Ranch High School – Starting 2 minutes earlier (7:23 a.m.).
  5. Pasco High School – Starting 5 minutes earlier (7:30 a.m.) and dismissing 3 minutes later (1:58 p.m.). 
  6. Hudson Middle School – Taking 1 minute from homeroom and adding it to the academic schedule.
  7. Weightman Middle School – Taking 2 minutes from homeroom and adding it to the academic schedule.
  8. Centennial Middle School – Starting 5 minutes earlier (8:35 a.m.) and taking 3 minutes from homeroom to add to the academic schedule.
  9. Bayonet Point Middle School – Starting 3 minutes earlier (8:37 a.m.) and dismissing 3 minutes later (2:53 p.m.). 
  10. Rushe Middle School – Adjusting homeroom and lunch periods to increase instructional time by 8 minutes. 
  11. Marchman Technical College – Starting 5 minutes earlier (7:45 a.m.) and dismissing 10 minutes later (2 p.m.).

Individual schools will notify their students, teachers, and staff of their adjusted bell schedule.  

If we have to cancel any additional school days this year, it is likely that the time will have to be made up by adding school days during Thanksgiving week or at the end of the school year.



Following Hurricane Irma, the district's Calendar Committee provided a recommendation for the remaining make-up days needed this school year in addition to the previously announced date of Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. The committee recommends Monday, January 8, 2018 and Monday, March 12, 2018 as the additional two dates.

Families and staff should mark their calendars and plan for regular school days on:

  • October 16, 2017
  • January 8, 2018
  • March 12, 2018

There will be no changes to the grading periods or report card dates. By completing three make-up days, the district's academic calendar will provide the required instructional time for all students.
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In order to determine whether schools in Hernando County will need to make-up the days missed due to Hurricane Irma, district leaders have reviewed each school's master calendar ensuring that there are sufficient instructional minutes remaining in the school year to meet state requirements. 

With the exception of one school (the name of the school has not been provided), all others have sufficient time built-in to their schedules to offset the lost days. District leaders are working closely with that school administration to make necessary adjustments to their schedule to make it so that they do not have to make-up the days missed. 

Therefore, neither students, nor staff, at any schools in Hernando County, will be required to make-up days lost to Hurricane Irma. 



Polk County Public Schools will use its six remaining early release days for the 2017-2018 school year to make up instructional time lost due to Hurricane Irma.

“There will be no more early release days for students for the rest of the school year,” said Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd. “However, this will spare students, teachers and other employees from having to lose precious time during the holiday seasons, or extending the school year to make up instructional time. We feel this option is the best compromise to keep our students in class without giving up important time with loved ones.”



No final decision made yet



The school district sent out the following message to students and parents earlier this week:

Hello, this is Superintendent Todd Bowden with a message for all parents and employees. I know all of you are wondering about make-up days due to the six days of instruction we lost during Hurricane Irma last week and the previous Friday.

I’m happy to report that Sarasota County public schools will not need to make up any of these days. The reason is that we already have 30 minutes a day of additional instruction. The relevant state school board rule says Florida K-12 schools need to be in session for no fewer than 180 teaching days, or no fewer than 900 instructional hours.

We have the extra half-hour of instruction each day because of the additional referendum dollars that have been approved by voters every four years since 2002. Our additional hours of instruction will make up for the extra storm days. We are so fortunate to have a supportive community that pulled together during Hurricane Irma and that makes public education such a priority in Sarasota County.