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Inclement Weather

There are two circumstances under which a legal school term may include fewer than 174 days and 1,044 hours: the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule; and the "inclement weather make-up days" rule. Both are intended to provide relief in the event of weather conditions which pose a threat to the safety and welfare of students including: (1) excessively cold temperatures; (2) snow and ice storms; and (3) under some conditions, excessively heavy rain.

Inclement Weather Forgiveness

When and how can the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule be applied?

  • If a planned school day begins, but the weather becomes (or is predicted to become) inclement to the degree that authorized officials determine it necessary to close early for the safety and welfare of students, the school may close early and be forgiven some or all of the hours missed (Section 160.041).
  • The rule may also be applied in situations where inclement weather predicted the day before (icy or unusually cold conditions, for example) results in a decision to open a school session later than planned. Some or all of the hours missed due to the late start may be forgiven.

Must the decision to shorten the school day be made after the school session for that day begins or can it be made the day before or even earlier?

  • The law was enacted to deal with circumstances in which inclement weather develops or is reliably predicted to develop during a school day. An Attorney General’s Opinion states that schools may not anticipate inclement weather by planning shortened days to take advantage of the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule. 
  • Decisions to shorten previously planned school days must be made on a day-to-day basis as weather facts and forecasts become available if the "inclement weather forgiveness rule" is to be applied. Decisions made on any other basis must be treated simply as amendments to the calendar, and days and hours must be counted in the routine manner.
  • In the case of snow, ice and rain the weather forecasts are usually imprecise, and decisions to shorten the school day should generally be made during the school day or, rarely, during the afternoon or evening prior to the early closing or late opening. In the case of unusually cold weather, forecasts are more reliable, and decisions to shorten the school day can be made a day or two in advance.

How are the days counted toward meeting the minimum requirement under the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule?

  • If school is dismissed because of inclement weather after school has been in session for three hours, the day counts as a day of school toward meeting the 174-day requirement for all students, including afternoon session half-day kindergarten students (even though the afternoon session may be cancelled).

How many hours may be forgiven under the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule and how are they calculated?

  • The hours and minutes for each shortened day during which school was in session are counted toward meeting the 1,044-hours requirement. The hours and minutesplanned for each shortened day, but during which school was not in session due to early closing or late opening may be forgiven until the district has accumulated twelve such hours for full-time students (six hours for students in half-day kindergarten programs).

What happens if the district loses over 12 hours (or six hours for half-day kindergarten programs) under the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule?

  • If more than twelve hours (or six hours in the case of half-day kindergarten students) are lost under this rule, the district must make up all hours lost, including the first twelve hours (or six hours in the case of half-day kindergarten students), by adding days and/or hours to the total school calendar – unless the planned school calendar was sufficient to provide 174 days and 1,044 hours, or 174 days and 522 hours in the case of half-day kindergarten, in session after subtracting the hours and any days lost under this rule.

What would be the minimum legal school term for a district using the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule and no other exceptions?

  • A district which planned the minimum school term could, using this rule, have a legal school term of 174 days, but only 1,032 hours of attendance for students in grades 1-12; and, 174 days but only 516 hours of attendance for students in half-day kindergarten.

Inclement Weather Make-Up Days

If a district uses the "inclement weather make-up days" rule, how many days lost or cancelled due to weather must be made up and how many can be forgiven?

  • A qualifying district is required to make up the six scheduled make-up days, plus half of the additional days lost up to a total of 10 make-up days. The remainder of the days and hours lost may be forgiven. For example, if a qualifying district misses 20 days due to inclement weather during the current term, it would have to make up 10 of the 20 days missed (the six scheduled make-up days, plus half of the remaining fourteen days missed, up to a total of 10 days). The remaining seven days would be forgiven. 
  • If its original calendar provided for more than 174 days and 1,044 hours of attendance (174 days and 522 hours for half-day kindergarten), a district using the "inclement weather make-up days" rule would have to make up the lesser of the days and hours called for by the rule or days and hours as necessary to provide 174 days and 1,044 hours (174 days and 522 hours for half-day kindergarten) of attendance.

How many hours does the district have to make up when using the "inclement weather make-up days" rule?

  • The district must make up the total number of hours originally planned for the days lost or cancelled due to inclement weather, up to the number of days and hours required to be made up. For example, if each day lost or cancelled was planned to be a 6-hour day, a district required to make up 10 days would have to make up 60 hours. If, on the other hand, one of the first 10 days lost was planned to be only three hours in duration to provide for teacher inservice, the district would have to make up a total of 57 hours. If a district’s original calendar provided for more than 174 days and 1,044 hours of attendance (174 days and 522 hours for half-day kindergarten), a district using the "inclement weather make-up days" rule would have to make up the lesser of the days and hours called for by the rule or days and hours as necessary to provide 174 days and 1,044 hours (174 days and 522 hours for half-day kindergarten) of attendance.

What would be the minimum school term for a district using the "inclement weather make-up days" rule and no other exception?

  • This question cannot be answered without a specific set of facts from which to calculate. The answer depends upon the total number of days lost or cancelled; the originally planned hours for each day; and, the total planned calendar for the school term.

May a district use both the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule and the "inclement weather make-up days" rule in accounting for days and hours lost due to inclement weather?

  • Yes – provided the number of hours lost under the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule does not exceed 12 hours for students in full-day programs and six hours in half-day kindergarten programs.
  • If more than 12 hours (or six, in the case of half-day kindergartens) are lost under the "inclement weather forgiveness" rule, all must be made up and only the "inclement weather make-up days" rule can be applied.

What is the penalty for failure to provide a school term of 174 days and 1,044 hours, as properly adjusted under the inclement weather provisions?

  • A district that fails to provide the minimum school term does not qualify for state aid and must forfeit all such aid due it. Since that penalty is so severe, the Department requires school districts to make up shortages in days and hours in the following school year.

Statutes Regarding School Calendar

  • Minimum school day, school month, school year, defined--reduction of required number of hours and days, when, 160.041.
  • Eligibility for state aid, requirements--evaluation correlation of rates and assessed valuation, report, calculation--further requirements--exception, 163.021.
  • Board to prepare calendar--minimum term--hour limitation, 171.031.
  • Make-up of days lost or canceled--exemption, when--waiver for schools in session twelve months of year, granted when, 171.033.