, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 29, 2013

When is a two-hour delay not two hours?

Last Monday night, the city called in a two-hour snow delay for school in anticipation of 6 to 9 inches of snow the next morning. The big snowstorm never happened, but 161 Amesbury High School students showed up late anyway, thinking that classes began at 10 a.m. when the school was expecting them at 9:30 a.m.

Let that sink in for a second. Out of the 628 students who attend Amesbury High School, exactly a quarter of the entire student body — the equivalent of an entire grade — showed up late because of what? A miscommunication? A non-communication? How exactly do you explain this?

Perhaps, a good place to start would be to answer the question posed by a reader who commented on The Daily News website last week: What exactly is so confusing about a two-hour delay?

“You simply have to be at school or at the bus stop exactly two hours later from normal,” the commenter said. “Not rocket science, sorry.”

You’d think, right? That would be the most sensible situation, but the truth is that showing up exactly two hours later than normal is precisely how 161 students showed up late last week.

How can that be? Let me explain.

On a normal day of school at AHS, A-Block begins at 7:30 a.m., which is when band and chorus meets and everyone else goes to their homeroom. Students who are not in band or chorus often don’t arrive at school until closer to 7:57, which is when the bell rings and first period starts.

This is where things get confusing. Amesbury Middle School and the elementary schools don’t have an equivalent to A-Block, and at those schools everyone shows up for their first class at the same time. Therefore, a two-hour delay is simple — you show up two hours later than normal and go from there.

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