UPDATE: Cy-Fair ISD board approves extended school days in 2020-21

Cy-Fair ISD officials plan to extend school days in 2020-21 rather than altering scheduled breaks throughout the year. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Cy-Fair ISD officials plan to extend school days in 2020-21 rather than altering scheduled breaks throughout the year. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Cy-Fair ISD officials plan to extend school days in 2020-21 rather than altering scheduled breaks throughout the year. (Courtesy Fotolia)

Updated at 9:14 p.m. June 16

Cy-Fair ISD board members unanimously approved modifications to the 2020-21 instructional calendar that will add 10-15 minutes of instructional time each day to the schedule. All other previously scheduled professional development and school breaks will remain as approved in January.

This additional time built into the calendar amounts to eight full school days over the course of the year. District officials said should CFISD be forced to close for an extended period of time, the first eight days would not have to be made up.

The month of June 2021 is set aside as makeup days that may be needed if the district closes longer than eight days.

“We opted to keep our calendar the same, and yes, we did add some time to the school day to build us up a little cushion of eight days in case we have to let school out,” Superintendent Mark Henry said. “I know it’s not ideal for everyone, but we thought that was a good way to approach this situation.”

Originally posted June 15 at 3:54 p.m.

Approximately five months after approving Cy-Fair ISD’s 2020-21 instructional calendar, the board of trustees discussed modifications as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic at a June 11 work session.

Although instruction continued remotely for 52 days after campuses closed in March, Chief Academic Officer Linda Macias said this time outside of the classroom amounted to about 30% of the 2019-20 instructional calendar.

Macias presented proposed calendar changes that she said would help support students who may return to school in August with learning gaps after consultations with principals and the district’s calendar committee.

Officials with the Texas Education Agency have recommended intersessional or year-round calendars with longer breaks throughout the year to combat learning loss and accommodate any disruptions should there be another COVID-19 outbreak next school year.

Macias said adding minutes to each instructional day would make more sense for CFISD, which is not designated as a District of Innovation and therefore cannot start school earlier than the fourth Monday in August.

Should the board approve the recommendation at its June 16 meeting, 10 instructional minutes would be added to the high school schedule and 15 minutes would be added to the elementary and middle school schedules so instructional days at all grade levels would last 450 minutes in 2020-21.

The calendar would otherwise be kept intact as approved in January—with classes starting Aug. 24 and ending May 27 for all students—and the month of June 2021 would be designated for makeup instruction time if significant closures take place due to COVID-19, Macias said.

“We may need [makeup days], or we may not need them because we don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said.

Macias said with the added minutes, time would be set aside for targeted instruction that will help struggling students get caught up and nonstruggling students improve their academic performance. This focused instructional time would take place in 30-minute blocks daily for elementary school students and four days a week for middle school students.

Teachers would also work an additional 15 minutes each day to maintain the current protocol of 45 minutes of non-student duty time teachers have to cover tasks such as car and bus rider duties.

Macias said summer school offerings would be extended in the coming school year as officials did this summer. More than 37,000 students are enrolled in summer school programming this year as opposed to the typical participation of about 8,000 students, she said.

The proposed calendar as approved Jan. 16 is as follows:

  • Aug. 10-14, 17-21: professional days

  • Aug. 24: first day of school for students

  • Sept. 7: student/staff holiday (Labor Day)

  • Nov. 2-3: professional days

  • Nov. 23-27: student/staff holiday (Thanksgiving break)

  • Dec. 21-25, 28-Jan. 1: student/staff holiday (winter break)

  • Jan. 4: professional day

  • Jan. 18: student/staff holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)

  • Feb. 15: professional day/inclement weather day

  • March 15-19: student/staff holiday (spring break)

  • April 2: student/staff holiday (Good Friday)

  • May 27: last day of school for students

  • May 28: professional day/inclement weather day

By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.