The Forsyth County Board of Education unanimously approved a change to the 2020-21 school calendar at a board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22, moving the start of the second semester for students back to Jan. 6.
Deputy Superintendent Joey Pirkle recommended changing the first two days of the second semester, Jan. 4-5, from regular school days to professional development days after speaking with school staff and leadership. The change would not shift spring break or the last day of school.
He said that, with more students potentially moving from virtual schooling into school buildings for face-to-face classes, staff members will need more time to prepare for the new semester.
Pirkle said that the extra two days will allow staff to get schedules worked out, offer help to families who may need it and set up orientations for students “who may be entering a school building for the very first time this school year.”
School officials anticipate that many students will likely be transitioning from virtual to face-to-face, they are also expecting staff changes, meaning that some students may have different instructors coming into their second semester.
He also said it will give teachers some time to fully assess the students’ academic performance and help them when they come back for the second semester to get caught up on work they may be missing, especially if the student moved from virtual to face-to-face learning.
“We’re all very sensitive to protecting instructional time,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden. “I think we all understand how important that is, but we are in a very unique environment. Our staff, our leadership, our teachers — they just need a couple of days to get prepared for second semester, more so this year than any year previously.”
“If we start it back on [Jan. 4] … those first few days would probably not have a lot of quality instruction happening either way because, logistically, we just wouldn’t be prepared.”