The area's recent one-two punch of snow and then freezing rain caused Cabarrus County Schools to close all last week, forcing officials to adjust the academic calendar and end-of-grade exam schedule.
As students returned to school this week, they plunged into first-semester exams before moving onto second-semester classes, which should have been nearly a week under way.
Before the missed days, high school exams were scheduled to begin Jan. 12 and second semester was scheduled to begin Jan. 24. High school exams will continue through this week.
"We usually use about three (make-up days) every year," said Ronnye Boone, public relations director for the schools. "Any type of weather events are challenging because we're bound by state law for students to attend 180 days, 1,000 hours, per year. So, we're hoping we won't have to make any further adjustments. We're hoping the weather cooperates."
This year's storms may feel worse because of the multiple days of cold in December (it was the second coldest on record), but the school system usually has to deal with at least one or two snow/ice events each year, said Boone. By the afternoon of Jan. 13, officials said 53 of the area's 67 roads were impassable, many in Midland and Mount Pleasant. CCS errs on the side of caution when making closing decisions.
Concord Transportation department worked on area roads Jan. 9-14 during 2011's first winter event, which caused massive travel problems throughout the Eastern United States. It snowed about 4 inches in Cabarrus County on Jan. 9-10. Freezing rain fell on the final night and covered the area in about a quarter-inch layer of ice.
The city of Concord sent out a letter Jan. 12 saying its major thoroughfares and bare pavement routes were in good condition, and efforts were shifting to second and third-tier streets and known trouble spots. The winter weather advisory expired at noon Jan. 12. The city also said abatement efforts were more intense than usual
"Developing, and subsequently, revising the school calendar is quite challenging," said Boone. "In addition to the legal requirements for student attendance, teacher workdays and staff development, we also consider other factors such as holidays, family schedules and educational and extra-curricular opportunities.
"We realize that changes to the calendar may cause conflicts with these other factors, but we remain focused on complying with the parameters of the law and ensuring that Cabarrus County Schools students do not miss out on any educational opportunities as a result of inclement weather or any other situations that may affect the school calendar," she said.
Associate Superintendent Jim Amendum, who has been with the system for more than a decade, said CCS has never used all of its make-up days, but if it did, the state legislature would most likely vote to extend the school year beyond the mandatory June 10 end date.
In some instances, especially for school systems in the mountains, missed days are sometimes forgiven, Amendum said.
For details about the schedule changes, visit the Cabarrus School System's website.