At Thursday’s Shenandoah County School Board meeting, Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Melody Sheppard unveiled three possible school calendars that could be used beginning next school year.
In the first one, school would begin Aug. 16, 2022. There would be two days off — Sept. 1 and Sept. 2 — for fair week. She said students would go to school on Aug. 29, 30 and 31 of fair week. The semester would end Dec. 22 and students would return Jan. 5, 2023. There would be would have a week and a day for spring break and the last day of school would be June 1, 2023.
Sheppard said students who are participating in the fair would be considered present. In addition, the school division would allow teachers to take students to the fair for field trips and activities.
The second possible calendar was similar to the first. The school year also starts on Aug. 16. With this model, schools would have an early release of school on Aug. 29, 30, 31 and Sept. 1 and then students would have Sept. 2 off. The semester would end on Dec. 22, and then the second semester would begin Jan. 5, 2023, with the school year ending on May 31, 2023.
Sheppard said for the first two models, the school year could end prior to Memorial Day if spring break week was shortened by two or three days.
She said for the first two models there are 86 days in the first semester and 95 days in the second semester for a total of 181 days. Sheppard said students would only go to school for 180 days, and if there were no inclement weather days then that extra day would be taken off at the end of the school year.
The last model she showed was one for a post-Labor Day start. School would start Sept. 2, 2022, and would not end until June 19, 2023.
Whatever model is chosen would be used for the next three years.
“At the October meeting I will bring a recommended school calendar for the 2022-23 school year, the 2023-24 school year and the 2024-25 school year,” Sheppard said.
The school division recently did a survey to see what students, parents, teachers and the community would like from future school calendars.
Sheppard said they had 3,012 responses to the survey. She said 2,227 of the respondents were parents or guardians, 496 school staff or administrators, 184 community members, 55 students and 50 district staff or administrators.
Sheppard said out of all the responses, 1,105 said they wanted the first day of school as late as possible. She said 466 wanted high school students to finish Standards of Learning tests before the winter break and she said 389 wanted the last day of school to be as early as possible. She said 316 did not want students to have school during fair week and 81 said they would like to have school during fair week and 67 respondents said that they would like to start after Labor Day.
Sheppard also shared a chart showing how many days have been missed in Shenandoah County due to weather through the years. In 2020-21 there were a total of seven days, 2019-20 there were only four days, 2018-19 there were 12 and 2017-18 there were eight days. She said two of those years there were only two days missed in the first semester, one year there were three days missed and one year there were no days missed in the opening semester.
Sheppard said she tried to make sure the three calendars met the top three choices — to start as late as possible, end as early as possible and to finish the first semester before winter break, if at all possible.
For the past several years, school has started in early August and closed for fair week at the end of August while finishing the school year before Memorial Day.