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Hillsborough schools cancel early release days to make up time missed during Hurricane Dorian

The district chose this path rather than implementing one of its hurricane days.
Sierra Gauthier, a kindergarten teacher at Collins Elementary, left a whiteboard message Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, for potential evacuees seeking shelter from Hurricane Dorian. The job of preparing schools to be shelters was among the main considerations at Hillsborugh County school officials decided Friday to cancel classes for Tuesday. [Courtesy of Rebecca Sargable]
Published Sep. 10

The Hillsborough County school district’s student calendar laid out four vacation days that students might lose if a hurricane struck — November 11, 25, 26, & 27.

Rather than disturb Veterans Day, or break up the Thanksgiving week off, the district decided to cancel all early release Mondays through the first semester to make up for the day students missed because of Hurricane Dorian’s threat.

The storm never came, but the district canceled classes Sept. 3 out of an abundance of caution as the Category 5 hurricane churned off Florida’s Atlantic coast.

RELATED: Tuesday was mostly sunny. Why Tampa Bay area schools closed for Hurricane Dorian.

Unlike other area districts, which are not requiring any makeup time for their missed classes, Hillsborough has a student calendar with little buffer for time off. In order to meet state required instructional hours, it must adjust its schedule.

The state does not allow students to receive the hours from the first semester in the second semester.

“Through collaboration with our unions, we have made the decision to take four Mondays originally scheduled as Early Release Days and extend those to be full school days,” the district communications office told parents in an email sent Tuesday afternoon.

That means September 16, September 23, September 30 and October 7 will now be full class days, and students will not be released early. The district already had canceled several other early release days in the first semester to ensure they had enough course hours scheduled.

The next planned early release day is Jan. 13.

“We believe this plan will have the least impact on our families and employees and provide our students with the time in class they need to be successful,” the district said in its letter to parents.

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