School Calendar Waivers

​​​​​Reschedule Instructional Days or Request Waiver


Waivers and Rescheduled Instructional Days Information and Frequently Asked Questions



Required Instructional Days  
Each school administrative unit (SAU) is required to maintain at least 180 days for all of its schools with at least 175 days used for instruction. Rule Chapter 125 defines an instructional day as a day during which both students and teachers are present, either in school or in another setting, and engaged in a portion of the day that is devoted to the teaching-learning process. An instructional day must be a minimum of three hours in length for K-12, and for grades 1-12 must average five hours in length over a consecutive two-week period.  Other minimum requirements for public pre-school programming can be found in Rule Chapter 124

SAUs that provide meals to students and adhere to the requirements for an instructional day may count a remote day toward the 175 instructional days requirement. 

Child Nutrition 
SAUs that have entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) are responsible for providing meals to students during each instructional day. 

Non-Congregate Meal Service Waivers

The Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) has been approved to offer a statewide waiver to allow local program operators to serve meals in a non-congregate setting when congregate meal service operations in schools are limited due to natural disasters, unscheduled major building repairs, court orders relating to school safety or other issues, labor-management disputes, or when approved by the State agency for a similar unanticipated cause. This waiver is allowed for up to a 10-day approval, after such, an approval from the USDA FNS Regional Office is required.
Child Nutrition directors may request an application to use waivers from the Maine DOE at the time of the unanticipated closure, and not prior to an event or in preparation for an event.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) - School buildings are closed with virtual learning (Waiver available through the end of the school year)

  • Non-Congregate Meal Service
  • Meal Service Times
  • Parent Guardian Meal Pick Up
  • Offer vs Serve

Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk Only (CACFP) - School buildings are closed with virtual learning (Waiver available through the end of the school year)

  • Non-Congregate Meal Service
  • Meal Service Times
  • Parent Guardian Meal Pick Up
  • Enrichment Activity

Closures with meal service and remote learning would count as a school day.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) - School buildings are closed with no virtual learning (Waiver available through April 2024)

  • Non-Congregate Meal Service
  • Meal Service Times
  • Parent Guardian Meal Pick Up
  • Service of Meals at School Sites during Unanticipated School Closures

Closures with no meal service or remote learning would not count as a school day.

If approved for a waiver, the school administrative unit will be required to complete a Maine DOE report.  Requirements may include the number of meals served, site location(s), dates the waiver was used, and reason for the unanticipated closure. Information requested will include:

  • A description of how the waiver impacted meal service operations at participating sites
  • A description of whether the waiver resulted in improved services to children
  • A description of how the waiver reduced the quantity of paperwork necessary to administer the program
  • A summary of benefits and challenges associated with the waiver.

Maine DOE child nutrition staff should be consulted when considering a waiver.

Location, staffing, and safety should be considered when making these decisions.

Health or Safety Concerns 
If an instructional day must be shortened due to a health or safety concern, the day is considered a full day if the school has been in session for 2.5 hours.   
Rescheduling Instructional Time 
If an instructional day must be cancelled, a SAU is expected to reschedule that time.  According to Rule Chapter 125, Section 5.01, acceptable methods to reschedule instructional days include the following: 

  • Rescheduling or shortening scheduled vacation.
  • Postponing the scheduled school closing date. 
  • Providing up to 25 one-hour extensions of the instructional day to equal a maximum of five 5-hour make-up instructional days in a school year in accordance with a plan approved by the Commissioner. 
  • Conducting classes on weekends. 
  • Other ways not included above, which will be incorporated into a plan approved by the Commissioner.  

Click here submit a request for Commissioner approval of rescheduled instructional days. 

Graduating Students 
According to statute, SAUs may allow secondary students to graduate up to five days prior to the regularly scheduled end of the school year.  The regularly scheduled end of the school year is the anticipated last day of school established by the adoption of the calendar by the school board. 
Requesting Waivers 
The Commissioner may waive the minimum school year requirements for a single school, or several schools in the SAU, upon submission of a written application from the school board. A waiver may be granted only after school officials have exhausted all reasonable avenues for making up lost instructional days. All waiver applications must be submitted here.  

The SAU is required to provide identification of which school or schools were affected, a description of the circumstances that led to the waiver request and detailed actions taken to make up lost instructional day(s). School boards are encouraged to keep the number of potential weather-related cancellations in mind when they consider subsequent school year calendars. SAUs are encouraged to submit a waiver request only after the school board has finalized an updated school calendar. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

If I use the option to extend five school days by one hour, may one or more of the days be a planned early release day?

  • Yes, provided that in any two-week period, the average school day is at five hours before the extended hours are added. 

If I have an emergency closure that is not weather-related and applies to only some of the schools in my school administrative unit, may I apply for a waiver for just that population of students?

  • Yes, provided the school administrative unit has made every effort to make up lost school days through reasonable avenues. 

May I request a waiver for just the senior population if we cannot meet the “no greater than five days” difference?

  • Yes, provided the school administrative unit has made every effort to make up lost school days through reasonable avenues.