Flagler County public school students may be enjoying an extra two weeks of summer. But a proposed revised calendar will have them make up every lost day through shorter Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks, and by converting teacher work days into instructional days.
Last week the Flagler County School Board agreed to push the reopening of schools to Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 10 as local and state coronavirus cases surge and the district adapts to a trio of educational models that limit the presence of students on campus.
The board agreed to meet Tuesday in special session, giving its administration and calendar committee time to craft an altered school calendar for the year.
The new calendar it will vote on at the 3 p.m. meeting has students completing the year almost on time–with two days tacked on at the end of the school year. But if the general framework of the calendar will seem familiar at first glance, many changes are in the details, with numerous days off replaced by instructional days for students, and almost all the teacher work days replaced by instructional days. In sum, all 10 instructional days lost to the two-week delay will be made up through reduced days off or through the conversion of teacher work days into class time.
For students, faculty and staff, one prominent change is an abbreviated Thanksgiving week off. The original calendar had the week of Nov. 23 through the 27 off, with Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 26. But Nov. 23, 24 and 25 were also tagged as hurricane make-up days, if necessary. Nov. 23 and 24 are now covid-emergency make-up days, while the Thanksgiving break will be limited to three days that week, from Nov. 25 to 27 (plus the weekend).
Students will also lose two of their Winter Break days, and faculty will lose one of those two days. Winter Break in the original calendar stretched over two weeks plus a day for students, from Dec. 21 through Monday, Jan. 4, with Dec. 21 counting as a teacher work day. In the new calendar, the Dec. 21 teacher work day will be replaced with a regular work day for faculty and students, and students will have to return to class on Monday, Jan. 4. Winter Break will go from 11 days to nine days for both faculty and students.
Spring Break will be reduced from six to five days off for students, as a teacher work day on Monday, March 22, is replaced with a regular instructional day. Spring Break is now scheduled from March 15 to 19.
The school year for students was originally scheduled to end on May 27, a Thursday, with that Friday devoted to a teacher work day. In the new calendar, students will have to finish out the week in class and come back to class after Memorial Day, on June 1, for just that one day, in essence adding two days to the end of the school year. Teachers will still have to put in a teacher work day on Wednesday, June 2.
The new calendar preserves the five national holidays–Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day. It also preserves Tuesday, Nov. 3, as a day off for all, to accommodate Election Day, as several schools will be used as voting precincts. The school board was reluctant to have voters and politicians interact with students or staff now that the Legislature has changed the rules, allowing candidates to politic at any precinct, even on school grounds, the day of the election (as long as they respect certain restrictions).
Teachers have lost a slew of planning and work days that had been built into the calendar: not a single one of their six days built into the calendar survived, with a seventh–the work day originally scheduled for the end of the year, on May 28–pushed to June 2. Under the original calendar, teachers were scheduled to start planning on Aug. 4 through 7. Those days have now been scheduled for Aug. 19, 20 and 21, but teachers will be required to start the year on Aug. 10, with seven scheduled professional learning days.
The end of the first quarter has been pushed two weeks, to Oct, 23, and the end of the second quarter has been pushed from just before the winter break to January 15. The third quarter’s end is pushed two weeks, to March 26, and the end of the second semester is pushed to June 1 instead of May 27.
The length of quarters have also changed, but only slightly: the first quarter will last 44 days instead of 43, the second quarter will last 46 days instead of 42, for a total of 90 days in the first semester, rather than 85. The second semester will be shorter. Quarters 3 and 4 were to have 47 days each. They will have 43 and 46 days instead, and the semester will be reduced from 94 days to 89 days.
Keep your fingers crossed: the original calendar included five hurricane make-up days in the fall semester. The proposed calendar has only one such make-up day: Nov. 25, the eve of Thanksgiving.
Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt told the board last week that the calendar committee and the administration’s negotiations with the teachers and service employees unions would lead to the revised calendar. The district is offering three instructional options for students and parents: one would be in-person instruction at the district’s nine campuses. Another would be instruction through iFlagler, the Florida Virtual School-like online system. And a third option is remote instruction, which entails students participating from home but sitting for every streamed class at its regularly scheduled time, with attendance and work requirements mirroring those of the in-person setting. Board members were favoring the remote models to the extent that they would diminish in-person attendance and allow for more manageable social distancing and other covid-preventing measures.
You can compare the two calendars below.