Students at Jireh Swift Elementary School in New Bedford were recently informed that they will have to attend school on several Saturdays in February to make up for missed days due to the school’s boiler breaking late last year.

Many parents are not happy with the school’s decision and are seeking answers.

Jennifer Tavares has a son who attends Swift. On Thursday, she was informed that her son would have to make up the days missed on the weekends in February.

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“Even though it’s only a few days and they are half days, it’s even worse for parents that work on Saturdays,” she said. “My son told me the teachers were given a choice (to) add on three days at the end of the year or (attend) three Saturdays.”

According to Tavares, the parents were not consulted in the decision-making process and it has many parents scratching their heads. A snow day, for example, typically results in added days in June. Why should this be any different, especially with zero snow days on record for this academic school year?

“This is extremely upsetting and parents are outraged,” Tavares said.

Arthur Motta, community and public affairs manager of New Bedford Public Schools, provided some insight into the school’s decision.

“Swift School families were notified that the loss of school days on November 22, 23, and 28 are required to be made up per Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regulations,” he said. “The make-up days are tentatively scheduled for three Saturday mornings, February 4, 11 and 18. Otherwise, Swift’s School year will extend to nearly the end of June when all other schools have closed.”

Deputy Superintendent Karen Treadup, Chief Academic Officer Trina Camarao and Swift Principal Tonya Vitorino all admitted that it was a difficult decision to make.

“We realize that any of the options – weekends, existing school vacation weeks or the end of June – would work for some families and not for others,” they said in a statement.

While the parents understand the importance of making up the school days, Tavares feels that it’s an odd choice and borderline punishment.

“Swift is a very old school and now the students and parents, along with the teachers and their families, have to pay for it,” she said. “We believe it’s wrong.”

While the dates are still tentative, it sounds like students will have to sit through six-day school weeks for three separate weeks.

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