Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD is planning for flexibility in case COVID-19 impacts the 2020-21 school year.
The new plan, which the Board of Trustees discussed last week, makes no change to the calendar that was approved Jan. 16. But it allows 22 weekdays in June to make up for any closures due to COVID-19, in addition to the two bad weather days allocated in June.
“Every kid has to attend 75,600 minutes of school every year, and teachers have to work 187 days, no matter what the calendar looks like,” John Chapman, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD superintendent, said.
Districts across the state looked at other options as well, including adding intercessions. These intercessions could add one to two weeks to each scheduled vacation including fall break, Thanksgiving, winter break and spring break. If schools add those weeks off, it would extend the school year into July.
Chapman said these intercessions would be difficult for parents who work multiple jobs, leaving their child with nothing to do during those breaks.
The board also discussed eliminating holidays and/or adding Saturdays to ensure that students met the requirements for minutes of attended school and teachers met the required number of workdays. This would only allow for two days of vacation for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and all other breaks would be cancelled. Once students and teachers meet their required amount of attendance, the year would be over.
“I highly do not recommend that,” Chapman said when he mentioned holding classes on Saturdays. “Many of our kids have things going on on Saturdays, and everybody needs a break.”
Chapman noted that adopting the extension does not mean that school will extend into June. By keeping the approved calendar, it keeps the target end date at May 29, but it allows for any needed makeup days if another wave of COVID-19 hits.
“In the calendar, there will be no changes from August to May,” Chapman said. “There is an extension of 22 days in June, that in the event of a closure, we will use those days to get minutes and days in for our students and teachers.”
In a future meeting, Chapman plans to discuss with school district stakeholders and parents the possibility of extending school days. The extension of school days will ensure that students get their required minutes in, while creating a buffer of days that students will not have to make up in June. Options listed at the June 4 meeting included a 15-minute extension, creating a buffer of six days; a 30-minute extension, creating a buffer of 13 days; and a 45-minute extension creating a buffer of 19 days.
“As the nurse on this board, I would like to say that I greatly appreciate the thought that went into this,” C-FB ISD Board member Sally Derrick said. “I completely agree that we cannot predict future waves, so I think this approach makes sense.”