Northwest ISD will have staff—not students—work Feb. 21 and will hold classes March 22 to further make up for four days the district closed in January and February.
In a Feb. 11 email, NISD Superintendent Ryder Warren stated those changes come in addition to the decision to turn March 11—the day before spring break—and May 26—the last day of school—into full days. The plan states district staff will work a professional development day Feb. 21, and regular classes will be held March 22.
Feb. 21 was originally slated to be a student and staff holiday, while March 22 was planned to be a professional development day, according to the email.
NISD needs to make up instructional time because of the two-day shutdown Feb. 3-4 due to the winter storm as well as closures Jan. 14 and 18 due to COVID-19 spread and staffing shortages. State law requires school districts to have at least 75,600 minutes of instruction per school year.
The original three options to further make up for the days off were adding seven minutes to each school day starting Feb. 14 until the last day of school May 26; having classes Feb. 21, which was slated to be a holiday; or having the last day of school May 27 instead of May 26.
The district had asked families and staff members to submit their feedback on which option they preferred through an online survey that closed at 4 p.m. Feb. 9.
Warren noted in the email that the decision made was not an option on the survey. Instead, the input the district got from the survey “helped us develop what we hope will be a better option for our students’ learning,” he wrote.
“The feedback from all groups said scheduling challenges were likely on Feb. 21, which was the most popular option,” Warren wrote. “Secondly, adding minutes to every day was the least popular option, and extending the school year in May was also very problematic for many families.”
The logic behind the decision was also based on feedback that a lot of staff already had plans or appointments on Feb. 21 and would need to use personal days if the change was made, he wrote in the email. However, Warren said that he would rather have staff take personal time for a professional development day than for an instructional day with students.
As for choosing March 22, Warren wrote that it falls on the Tuesday after spring break, so he hopes that it will give families and staff enough time to change their plans if needed.
“Unfortunately, there is absolutely no way to meet everyone’s needs,” Warren wrote. “However, I feel this decision does attempt to create the best instructional time for our students, and that is the most important factor.”
Northwest ISD issues calendar changes to make up for time lost with shutdowns this year
Northwest ISD shut down Feb. 3-4 due to the winter storm and Jan. 14 and 18 due to rapid COVID-19 spread and staff shortages that followed. (Bailey Lewis/Community Impact Newspaper)