Meeting in regular session Wednesday evening, the Perry County School District 32 Board of Education amended the 2020-21 academic calendar.
The new calendar still has classes resuming on Wednesday, Aug. 26, and the last day of school set for May 28, 2021.
The first semester, however, has several changes to accommodate the blended learning model made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At our current community alert level of moderate, or yellow, a blended learning model that combines both in-seat instruction with online instruction is required,” said Superintendent Andy Comctock, “in order for our schools to comply with physical-distancing guidelines.
“When we measured classrooms, hallways, and other student areas, we were not able to have all students on campus every day under current pandemic mitigation procedures.”
Mr. Comstock said that the new schedule, which includes Flex Wednesdays when students are not attending classes on campus, has caused concern and inconvenience for families.
“We are acutely aware that parents in our school family are having to rearrange schedules and make plans to help their children navigate online learning for one or three days per week,” he said. “It’s not ideal; as a school leadership team, we strongly believe that children should receive in-seat instruction 5 days per week. Unfortunately, at this time a return to a five-day in-seat instructional week does not appear to be likely during the first 16 weeks of this school year.
“The calendar amendments approved by the board on Aug. 12 are designed to minimize the impact for families during the first semester,” Mr. Comstock said. “We have moved all professional development, parent-teacher conferences, and other non-attendance days to Wednesdays, with the exceptions of holidays.”
The amended calendar provides 33 days of in-seat instruction for secondary students in Grades 6-12 for both attendance groups. The A Group attends on-campus classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the B Group attends on-campus classes on Thursdays and Fridays.
· School is now in session on Friday, Sept. 25, the date set for East Perry Community Fair, which has been canceled.
· Parent-Teacher Conferences are now Wednesday, Oct. 28 instead of Oct. 29.
· The Oct. 30 Professional Development day has been moved to Wednesday, Nov. 4.
· The Thanksgiving holiday break is Nov. 25-27.
· Dec. 22 is now a full day of classes.
Holiday breaks remain the same. The Thanksgiving holiday break is Nov. 25-27. Christmas and New Year holiday break is Dec. 23-Jan. 4
“The second semester was not amended at this time,” Mr. Comstock said. “We will review any necessary amendments for the second half of the school year at the November and December board meetings.
“It’s our greatest hope that our first semester procedures keep our children and staff healthy and on campus as scheduled,” he said. “We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation in which we rush to start with five days of in-seat instruction, which would ignore our recommended protocols for a safe learning environment, only to close due to a rise in COVID cases shortly thereafter.
“Every decision we’ve made, every procedure we’ve implemented is to help our community reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission so we can get back to something that looks like the ‘normal’ way of operating.”