The Wingspan

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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

Snow more midterms: Midterm season with a twist

This midterm season, students were stressed about more than just their exams. In a hectic turn of events, snowfall and extreme temperatures closed HCPSS schools on three of the four scheduled days during midterm week.

This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, HCPSS students and staff spent their day off awaiting news of a cancellation. An early morning of snowfall had them sure that schools would be called off. However, many noticed that the county appeared reluctant to cancel school, most likely because of midterms.

According to the HCPSS website, when “deciding whether or not to close schools early, the superintendent will consult with the Director of Transportation, the Deputy Superintendent, the Director of Operations, the Community Services Specialist, the Coordinator of Athletics, the Director of Public Relations and other staff members as appropriate.” Officials in the Howard County Government and at Howard Community College are also consulted to ensure all available data is up to date in order to make an informed decision. 

Aware of the weather forecast, HCPSS had prepared some alternative schedules in advance. It was clear, however, that they had not anticipated missing more than one day, as no alternative schedule provided families with a course of action in the event of two, much less three, cancellations. However, despite the initial widespread confusion, they quickly released a series of new schedules that redistributed midterm exams over the course of the next four available school days.

“Howard County moves quickly when it comes to communicating changes and expectations,” English teacher Christopher Bailey said. “I have been a part of a very mismanaged district before, and the quick communication about the new schedule definitely satisfied me.” 

Though unexpected, most students were able to take advantage of the cancellations. Senior Kailan Li felt that the snow days were convenient and was glad for the opportunity to review notes and catch up on some much-needed sleep. “Those extra days gave me more time to study and really understand the material,” Li said. “But they also gave me an extra day to relax as it felt like a second winter break.” 

However, not everyone was entirely pleased with the interruption. “I honestly didn’t like that midterms got pushed back … I started forgetting topics that I had studied before,” junior Katie Lee said. Others repeated similar concerns, and some even reported increased pressure from parents to perform better on midterm exams following the extra studying time. 

Teachers also noted that the varying testing period lengths that resulted from adjusting midterm schedules felt unfair to certain classes. Midterms are designed to be 100 minutes each, but with the new schedules, only periods 2 and 3 had this much time. Periods 4A and 4B were given their typical 90-minute class for exams, and the remaining periods had an entire 20 minutes shaved off of their testing block. “I think it was a frustrating moment,” Bailey added. “I had prepared my students for my midterm, but then we ended up losing time, which I worry may have set them back.” 

Additionally, the snow days extended the end of the marking period from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25 and delayed the release of Quarter 2 report cards to Feb. 5. Some students also expressed worry about the extension of the school year due to the numerous closures. Despite the initial chaos, everything turned out well in the end; as Bailey voiced, everyone is “mainly thankful we lost days to something that didn’t destroy homes and lives.” However, this January will certainly remain a memorable midterm season.


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About the Contributor
Yeseo Lim, Copy Editor