School Approval Waivers

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. The federal regulations require that provided meals be served in a congregate setting and consumed on site. If a SAU cannot meet those requirements (such as during a remote or abbreviated day), the meal cannot be reimbursed under the NSLP, and all associated meal costs become the responsibility of the SAU. 

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.  

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 online via this link: Reschedule Instructional Days or Request Waiver.  

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. 

For additional information about the plan or waiver request process, contact School Approval Specialist Pamela Ford-Taylor at Pamela.Ford-Taylor@maine.gov. For additional information about the NSLP, contact Child Nutrition Director Jane McLucas at Jane.McLucas@maine.gov.  

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.