Education officials: Missed days could be waived in disaster areas

Bill proposal will address missed classroom time

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - School systems in what are considered disaster areas in the wake of Hurricane Florence would be able to waive school days missed due to the storm if a bill being prepared by education leaders passes.

Senate Education Committee co-chairman Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), House Education K-12 Committee co-chairman Craig Horn (R-Union), and NC Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson addressed the media Monday from the New Hanover County Government Office.

Horn said a bill will be proposed to the General Assembly when it meets in the next two weeks that focuses on waiving days missed for areas hit the hardest by Florence as well as insuring school employees don't miss out on pay due to extended school closures.

"At this point, schools that are in disaster areas we're forgiving the length of whatever it is they're going to be out," Horn said. "In non-disaster-declared areas, we're working on a  program similar to what we had in Hurricane Matthew where we would forgive, I think, two or three days, and we would work out if there was anything longer than that. One of the keys is to ensure our kids get sufficient instruction as well. So it's kind of a balance."

"We are working to ensure that teachers and other employees do not have to use their vacation days or lose pay because the schools are closed or they have been dislocated.

"We're working on how this impacts our community college and university students," Horn said. "Some of them won't be able to return to schools because, frankly, they've lost everything."

The drafted bill doesn't address charter schools at this point.

After meeting in the next few weeks, the General Assembly is expected to meet again in November.

Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties were designated as disaster areas.

Several school districts have been out of the classrooms for over a week due to Hurricane Florence and its destruction to the area.

Many schools suffered damage and there are some districts that have not yet been able to provide an initial assessment due to flooded roads.

It is unclear when classes will resume around the region. Click here for a list of closings.

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