Students and Teachers Say Goodbye to their Week Off in February

By Maria Sawiris and Mahgul Mansoor

As the city continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott have shortened the mid-winter recess. Instead of having the whole week off, the 2013 February break will be cut down from five days to two. This was done in an effort to meet the Department of Education’s required 180 days of active schooling.

Over a thousand schools in New York City were affected by the storm. Mayor Bloomberg closed all New York City public schools for five days. Schools, such as Tech, which served as shelters, were closed for an additional day. Furthermore, to accommodate victims displaced by Sandy, Tech implemented a special, shortened schedule for the first three days back that increased the amount of class time missed.

Tech students have a variety of opinions on the recent changes.

Caren Celine Morris ’14 said, “Taking some days out of a vacation is a lot better than lengthening school days, so I think that this decision was a smart one.”

According to Sydul Akhanji ’16, “Any break is really important to a student because it lets us relax and not do any work. And if you’re in a specialized high school like Brooklyn Tech, we get a lot of work. We need that break.”

February break was shortened to compensate for the loss of school time and to get the city back on track for national standards. There are usually 182 to 183 school days in the year; the extra days are used to cushion snow days or other unexpected school closings. NYC only would have been two or three days short of the mandated 180 days, but problems would arise if any bad snow storms occur this winter that would require further school closings.

If there are teachers or students who have already booked and arranged their February vacation plans, there will definitely be some absences during the week of February 18th.

Jennifer Sullivan, Assistant Principal of Organization, said, “Personally, my plans were not affected… Staff members that have proof of paying for a vacation prior to the storm are allowed to take the days by using days in their ‘sick bank’ without being penalized. I imagine some teachers will be absent that week, as well as a number of students whose parents booked and paid for holiday vacations.”

Sasha Kiosse ’15 didn’t have any plans that were affected by this change, but commented, “I don’t really mind coming in the two or three extra days, but I know a lot of people who won’t be coming in to school. [Those] school days are going to be pointless. I don’t think we’ll be doing anything in class if so many people aren’t going to be there.”

Akhanji expressed disdain towards those who will be missing school that week. “It kind of gets me mad. You know there is school yet you still go on a one week or three day vacation while other kids are actually going to school and doing work. It is kind of an integrity thing… If there is school, you have to go to school.”

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