On Friday, April 8, the question about whether a falling tree makes a sound isn’t as important as the one that asks, “Will it close a school?” That’s because a tree that fell near School Rd. during the heavy rains on Thursday evening and struck electrical wires caused damage to the electrical panels at Cider Mill and Middlebrook Schools, prompting officials to close both school buildings and move learning online for students who attend those schools for at least one day.

The news broke during the Board of Education meeting Thursday evening. Superintendent Kevin Smith was called out of the room along with the administrators from the two schools and told of the news.

Smith came back to the meeting and made the announcement, noting that there had been “pretty substantial electrical damage,” to the electric panels. School officials began notifying the school community about the emergency switch to remote learning.

Smith acknowledged the last-minute nature of transitioning to a remote learning option, saying, “To the best that we’re able tomorrow and try to have some kind of day for kids. So I don’t want to set expectations very high. We’re going to do the best we can.”

Will it Count?

There was a follow-up question from BOE members: would the remote learning day count toward the district’s required 180 days of learning in the eyes of the State Department of Education? At the moment, remote days are permitted in certain COVID-related instances, but it’s not certain if other reasons are the case.

Smith was hopeful in light of few other options being available to the district.

“We are going to work very hard to make sure it counts as a school day. … There is a provision the carve about for emergency days, so I’ll verify that in the morning,” he said, adding, “But let’s plan on it. And then if we need to argue with the state about it, we will.”