The Spring ISD board of trustees unanimously approved a revised 2020-21 instructional calendar during a special meeting May 28, which features intersessional breaks and runs Aug. 17, 2020-June 25, 2021.
According to district officials, the new calendar aligns with guidance released by the Texas Education Agency earlier this month, which seeks to minimize anticipated disruptions from COVID-19 in the upcoming school year.
"The administration believes that our proposed 2020-2021 calendar will give us the flexibility to deal with whatever unknown scenarios we may have to face in this coming school year," Chief of School Leadership Lupita Hinojosa said during the meeting. "Based on what TEA and the [Centers for Disease Control] are telling us, the upcoming school year is likely to be disrupted and we believe this proposed calendar will give us a way to maximize instruction even if we're forced into another COVID-19-realted school closure."
During the intersessional breaks planned throughout the 2020-21 school year, Hinojosa said students in grades pre-K-11 will not have classes, however, identified students in those grade levels may receive targeted instruction so they can stay on track with grade level requirements or take part in enrichment activities.
"Not all students are required to take part in those extra learning opportunities; some families may choose just to use this time as a break," Hinojosa said.
By contrast, seniors will participate in remote learning during the intersessional breaks, which will allow them to finish the school year in late May and give those students the entire month of June to participate in college orientations or begin their college or work career.
Dates of note included on the revised 2020-21 instructional calendar are as follows:
- Aug. 10-13, 2020: Teachers professional development days
- Aug. 14: Teacher preparation day
- Aug. 17: First day of school
- Sept. 7: Labor Day (no classes)
- Oct. 5-9: Intersession/senior remote learning
- Nov. 16-20: Intersession/senior remote learning
- Nov. 23-27: Thanksgiving break
- Dec. 21-Jan. 1, 2021: Winter break
- Jan. 4-8: Intersession/senior remote learning
- Jan. 11: Teacher professional development days
- Jan. 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (no classes)
- March 8-12: Intersession/senior remote learning
- March 15-19: Spring Break
- April 2: Good Friday (no classes)
- April 5-9 and 12-16 and May 3-21: STAAR Testing
- May 28: Last day of school for seniors
- May 31: Memorial Day (no classes)
- June 21-24: STAAR Testing
- June 25: Last day of school for grades pre-K-11
- June 28: Teacher preparation day
Board President Rhonda Newhouse said based on Texas Association of School Boards webinars she had attended, the revised calendar seemed to align with plans of other Texas school districts.
"It's clear that many districts will be extending their calendar year into June—now, how far into June, nobody is saying at this time—but it is evident that yes, they are planning to go into June and I see we are too," Newhouse said. "I think we're right on target with other districts in terms of our innovation calendar here."
Likewise, Superintendent Rodney Watson said in a survey of school districts in Harris County and TEA Region 4, about 30% of school districts said they were planning to make changes to their respective 2020-21 instructional calendars, based on the new TEA guidance.
"It is important to note that every school district sees their own unique situation differently. So for example ... there are a few districts that say very straightforward 'We don't have a [COVID-19] slide. Our kids are fine, they will be well, we don't have to plan for that.' But their socioeconomic status, level of the needs of their kids and their community is totally different from ours," Watson said.
In addition to approving a revised 2020-21 instructional calendar, district officials also presented the board with information on how they are planning to address logistical issues such as class configurations, school schedules and transportation, among others, which could pose problems in the coming school year due to COVID-19.
While nothing is set in stone, throughout the month of June district officials will plan for the following four scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Schools open with minimum need for social distancing
- Scenario 2: Schools open with significant need for social distancing
- Scenario 3: Schools open, but with rolling closures, and significant need for social distancing
- Scenario 4: Schools do not open; remote learning continues
"We could potentially start the year in one scenario, like with minimum social distancing or social distancing of a certain level, and then need to have more significant social distancing so that ability to move between the scenarios is very important," SISD Chief of Communications Tiffany Dunne-Oldfield said.
As part of that planning, Dunne-Oldfield said the district will also be surveying parents, students and staff to gauge their thoughts on what will be needed for next year including what technological gaps still exist and whether students prefer remote learning to in-person learning.
"We do want to gauge our parents [if] they'd want to return [to school] in light of COVID-19," Dunne-Oldfield said. "In all school districts in our area and across the state and across the nation, we are hearing that some parents do want the remote option for their students for a multitude of different reasons."
Dunne-Oldfield also said that by planning for a scenario in which schools do not open, the district will be equipped to accommodate families who would prefer to continue remote learning instead of returning to in-person classes.
After plans are solidified throughout the month of June, Dunne-Oldfield said June and August will be spent ironing out the details and communicating those plans with SISD families.