School districts that were affected by Hurricane Ian can adopt an “alternative calendar” to meet requirements for instructional time, state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said Wednesday.
In a letter to school superintendents, Diaz said school boards can adopt such alternative calendars without having to seek approval from the state Department of Education.
By law, schools are required to operate for 180 teaching days, or the equivalent of at least 720 instructional hours for kindergarten through third-grade and 900 hours for higher grades.
In the letter, Diaz said he and the State Board of Education have authority to “evaluate the need to alter” instructional-hour requirements on a case-by-case basis.
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Diaz also has authority to consider reducing the lengths of district school terms if certain requirements are met.
“Accordingly, the (state) board and commissioner have the ability to evaluate a district’s best efforts to fulfill these instructional hours and days requirements and consider the exceptional circumstances that may have been a barrier to fulfilling those requirements. Given these flexibilities, there is no need to preemptively act until the need arises,” Diaz wrote.
State education officials last week gave flexibility to districts affected by the storm in reporting student enrollment.
The Category 4 hurricane made landfall Sept. 28 in Southwest Florida and crossed the state, causing many school districts to close and people to evacuate.
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