3-hour delays coming to Midstate school district

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – We’ve all heard of one- and two-hour school delays, but what about three-hour delays? A Midstate school district will soon start using them.

The past two winters were rough, forcing Shippensburg Area School District to use all its snow days and extend the school year.

“Lots of instructional time were lost, really concerning for our teachers,” Superintendent Beth Bender said. “I started to wonder, if I just had one more hour, I could’ve gotten the kids to school.”

That’s why the district plans to use three-hour delays instead of canceling school. Bender said giving road crews that extra hour to clear the roads could make a difference.

“We might have three inches of snow at 6 a.m., but by noon we have nothing because the spring sun is warmer and will melt the snow away,” Bender said.

A three-hour delay would give students a little more than half a day.

“Losing a few hours in the morning doesn’t put us in danger; it’s when we lose an entire day that we can’t meet the 180-day requirement,” Bender said.

Under a three-hour delay, students would make their way to school, eat lunch, then go to class in the afternoon.

Parents have split opinions about it.

“I think it would be good,” said Loree Bigler, who has children in the school district. “That way they wouldn’t have to go to school longer in the year.”

“I’m not really thinking that’s a great thing. You’re just shortening the school day a little bit more,” said Rich Knight, who also has kids in the school district. “I do understand the reason why they want to use it.”

Bender said when it comes to your child’s education, shortening the school day is better than the alternative.

“By June 1, when the testing is completed and the grades are mostly completed, the sun comes out, the pools open, and the kids are ready to go. So, we kind of lose their attention in June,” she said. “We have much more attention from them during bad weather in March.”

The district has not used any three-hour delays, yet.

“I’m not sure that we will use it. Maybe we’ve jinxed the snow away for this year,” Bender joked.

If Shippensburg does use a three-hour delay, it will be the only school district in the state to do so, according to the state Department of Education.

“Necessity really is the mother of invention, and creativity can lie in the smallest towns of America,” Bender said.

Bender said about 10 other school districts have approached her to get more information about the three-hour delay plan.

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