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October 31st, 2014 09:47 p.m.




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Bursting pipes keep Hall County Schools closed today

Gainesville classes back in session

POSTED: January 31, 2014 12:09 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Marlon Veal walks carefully as he spreads ice-melt pellets on a slick hill on Vaughandale Circle on Thursday afternoon. Hall County Public Works crews had to spread the pellets by hand on the extremely steep hill because the sand truck could not make it through.

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Hall County schools remain closed today due to a water main break in front of Chestatee High School, cutting off water to both the high school and Chestatee Middle School.

That combined with icy conditions on some roads led to the decision to close school. Gainesville schools were still set to go back today.

While some students get another day off, their teachers were already looking ahead to makeup days.

Asked if their students were busy with homework during Thursday’s impromptu snow day, North Hall Middle School teachers Kathy Mellette and Michele Hood laughed.

“We used our snow days as a chance to catch up on work,” Mellette said. “Do we think our students are doing the same thing? No!”

While teachers gathered papers and other assignments before they left their classrooms Tuesday, children across Hall County have gleefully taken the opportunity to have some fun in the sun and snow.

“All the kids in the neighborhood (Wednesday) took the tops off of plastic containers and put garbage bags over them, and were sliding down hills,” parent Jennifer Hudson said. “I think now they’re bored. I think they’re ready to go back to school.”

Both Hall and Gainesville schools were in session Tuesday, though Hall schools let out a couple of hours earlier in anticipation of that afternoon’s winter weather. The excess snow and ice on the roads led to classes being canceled Wednesday and Thursday.

While children relished the chance to get out of the classroom and into the snow, teachers kept a worried eye on the calendar, knowing they’ll have to make up the days somehow.

North Hall Middle teacher Ruby Putman spent nearly the entire two-day break grading papers, knowing she’ll have to make up the days in her contract, whether students have to make up the missed days or not.

“The snow days are days that you have to make up at the end of the year, so that’s why 12-month employees reported (Thursday) and teachers did not,” Putman said. “Because if we end up with enough snow days where children have to make them up, then of course you have to have a teacher there.”

As Gainesville’s a charter school system, the students are not required to make up snow days unless the school board and school governance councils make that decision. The decision is generally made over whether or not that extra day would make a difference in academic performance.

Teachers and staff will either make up the work missed, or forgo the day’s pay.

“Each school will submit a plan to the board on how they will make up the days,” Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said, with some examples being holding Saturday training and conducting a professional learning day in May.

Gainesville Exploration Academy teacher Martina Hewitt knows the days need to be made up, but was grateful for the time off.

“I am definitely very appreciative that the superintendent took into consideration the safety of the students and the teachers, and that we were allowed these snow days and get to stay home warm and safe with our families,” Hewitt said. “I actually have an 8-month-old so I am excited to get to stay a couple of days at home with him.”

While the kids may be getting bored at home, it doesn’t seem as if the parents are at that point yet.

“I have really enjoyed the past few days,” mom of five Brittiny Peters said. “It’s been nice to have everybody home with no real schedule to adhere to.”

However, she’s also ready for school to be back in session.

“I wouldn’t mind another day or two of it, but eventually I will need to get my house back in order because it is a mess from the kids running around, playing and (from) wet snow clothes!” she said.



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