It looked like legislation to forgive additional snow days might be on ice Tuesday when the Senate Democrats accumulated enough votes to deny HB 4206 immediate effect. But after a chilly reception by House members and some political snow ball throwing, cooler heads prevailed and the bill eventually cleared a path through to the Governor's desk.

Rather than piling up more snow puns, let's just plow through to what Principals need to know about the bill:

  • The bill forgives any school days cancelled during the statewide state of emergency declared by Governor Whitmer. That means if your district cancelled school on any days between January 29 and February 2, those days and their equivalent number of instructional hours can be forgiven if (any only if) your school cancelled school during that window.  If your district was in session during any part of that window, then you simply don't have access to that portion of this additional forgiveness.
  • February 2 was a Saturday, so in practical terms this means that 4 additional days of instruction can be forgiven under this bill. Also, even though many schools cancelled on Monday, January 28 and state offices were shut down beginning at 10am that day, it is not considered to be part of the state of emergency and is not covered by this bill.
  • Getting these four days forgiven is optional and requires application to MDE.  So if your district already negotiated to extend the school year and doesn't want to have to explain to parents why you are changing the calendar again, you simply don't have to apply to have the days forgiven.
  • Snow day forgiveness covers both the day and the day's worth of hours.  In other words, you do not have to make up the hours lost due to a cancelled day of instruction. Because the number of hours of instruction in a school day will vary by district, the number of forgiven hours will also vary.
  • School's now have access to have up to 13 snow days forgiven, depending on circumstances.  Those are: the six days that every district is forgiven automatically, the additional three waiver days that can be granted by MDE, and up to four state of emergency days.
  • This change applies for the 2018-19 school year only.  So if this happens again next year, additional legislation would be required to forgive more than the nine snow days accounted for in current law.

The bill has been enrolled and expected to be signed into law by Governor Whitmer sometime in the next week or so.  Because the change will require schools to apply to MDE to have these days forgiven, stay tuned for further communication from the Department about what that process will look like.