There was plenty of talk online last week about the Farmington School District’s plan to go on as scheduled with its school day Jan. 7. Parents jumped on Facebook to wonder why the district hadn’t announced its decision Tuesday night, as many other districts did. Students turned to Twitter to complain that they had to go to school while peers in neighboring districts got the day off.

The decision to keep school open was the right one, even if the district didn’t handle everything as well as it might have. It has a policy when it comes to cold-weather closures, set up with input from the National Weather Service. Deviating from that policy because the wind chill got within a few degrees of the threshold for closing school wouldn’t have made sense. That threshhold is there for a reason.

More problematic is the decision to offer excused absences to students who stayed home from school. That essentially made attendance optional, and many students took advantage.

On a normal day, 95 percent of students are in class at Farmington schools. Last Wednesday, the average was more like 78, and at Farmington High School more than 40 percent of students stayed home. Or at least didn’t go to school.

The district’s use of iPads makes it uniquely situated for dealing with student absences and school closures, but there is clearly a benefit to having students in school. If there wasn’t, the district surely would have set a lower threshhold for keeping students home. Having so many students gone at the high school level makes it difficult to hold anything resembling a normal class for the students who show up.

The district was right to keep schools open last week. But the day would have been much more useful if the day had looked more like a normal school day.

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