Westside Adds 2-Hour Late Start Option For Winter Months


Aayushi Chaudhary

The new 2-hour late start option would require the school day to begin at 10:00 a.m.

School districts around the Omaha metro area, including Westside, have recently agreed to implement a “2-hour late start” to winter season options; meaning that the superintendents for these districts are able to call a snow day, a 2-hour late start, or a regular full day, weather permitting. In an email sent to Westside parents and teachers by Westside Director of Communications and Engagements, Brandi Paul, Westside Community Schools states the benefits of having a 2-hour late start day.

A 2-hour delay prevents us from losing an entire day of instruction while providing extra time for street clearing, parking lot and sidewalk snow removal, and less crowded roads for young drivers,” according to the email. “Many districts around the state have used these for years.”

Principal of Westside High School, Jay Opperman said that he understands the reasoning for providing the option of a 2-hour late start.

“I understand [the new 2-hour late option],” Opperman said. “It’s about trying to have students get as much school time as possible. That’s our job, to educate students, to make sure that we’re maximizing our school days.”

Similar to Opperman, junior Camille Beaulieu said that she believes the 2-hour late start rule will help prevent students from falling behind in classes.

“I think [the 2-hour late start option] is probably best for the school year,” Beaulieu said. “It will be nice not to have to make up [work from snow days] and be rushed in classes.”

Opperman said that the decision to call off school, have a late start, or hold a regular school day is ultimately up to the superintendent and that each option has its own benefits.

“Whether we don’t have school, or a [2-hour late start], or if we have school; it’s one of those decisions where you can’t win with everybody,” Opperman said. “No matter which decision we make, there’s positives and negatives about any one of those three options.”

Beaulieu said that she feels as though the 2-hour late start option may upset some students or staff members.

“A lot of students and teachers will be a little upset that instead of having a full day off we’ll just [have a late start],” Beaulieu said. 

As stated in the email sent by Paul, Opperman said that the decision to send students to school on a day with bad weather conditions is ultimately up to the parents or guardians of the student. 

“The key thing to remember is that the decision does rest with the family and the parent,” Opperman said. “And if the family and the parents say, ‘for us, that’s not safe,’ then that’s well within the family’s decision to make that [choice]. Just let us know, we’ll mark it as an excused absence due to weather.”

Opperman said that due to former NESA testing schedules, the bell system is already programmed with a schedule that would fit to a 2-hour late start school day.

“As a school, we’re already ready with a [2-hour late start] bell schedule,” Opperman said. 

Beaulieu said that given the option between a 2-hour late start and a snow day, she would prefer the latter. 

“I’d always prefer a snow day,” Beaulieu said.