The Culpeper County School Board agreed to an amended calendar Monday night for the 2020-21 academic year.
The first day of class for students will be Aug. 24, two weeks later than originally scheduled. Graduation for Eastern View High School and Culpeper County High School seniors will take place over next Memorial Day weekend and the last day of school for all students will be June 3.
What remains to be seen is what format students will have when they return to classes later this summer, as a 75-member Reopening Task Force must decide how instruction will take place.
Culpeper County School Board Superintendent Dr. Anthony Brads said the Task Force, made up of school principals, staff and community members, will meet early in July to mull over ideas and plans. By state law, Brads said they must have a plan in place by the end of July.
"Pushing back the calendar will give us some additional time for planning purposes," Brads said. "It also helps us grapple with what the opening might look like because there's a date fixed to it."
Brads said that to squeeze in 990 hours of mandated instruction over 180 school days means that half-days will be eliminated and the calendar leaves no room for make-up days in case of inclement weather.
"We would only come back to the board if we needed extra days or extra hours or extra time," he said.
"We will still have a reasonable end of the school year, reasonable graduation and not pushing it way into June, which could potentially affect next year's school start,” Brads added.
Culpeper County Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction Robert Hauman III said new teacher introduction will now take place on Aug. 10. "We believe we can do it adequately in one day," he said. "It's not optimal, but we can make it work."
Hauman noted, however, that the district is adding an extra day for professional development prior to the start of the year.
The parents and student visit/device pick-up days are scheduled for Aug. 19-20.
"The parents and student visit will look very different this year," Hauman said. "We're contemplating having two days prior to the students returning to where they can come to the school and pick up a device or their work packets; if it's meeting teachers. We just can't say at this time, but it's certainly something the task force will grapple with.
"We wanted to devote at least two days in case we needed more time to get stuff out to kids," he said.
One feature that will not take place this year is the annual Culpeper Chamber of Commerce Day for teachers, where they get to meet business representatives and are presented with swag from area companies.
"Just getting everyone together doesn't make sense, given the social-distancing requirements," Hauman said. "And frankly, we just need more time to prepare for kids."
While students will still get a spring break in early April, it will come at the end of the third-quarter grading period — forcing teachers to do a little bit of work over that break.
"We would just ask that teachers work on their report cards over the spring break," Hauman said.
Students will also be off Monday, Nov. 2, and Election Day, Nov. 3, but those will be professional development days for teachers.
"We're also recommending that we get rid of early dismissals," Hauman said. "As we start looking to get clock hours, hours are really going to matter. Given all the uncertainty of scheduling that we're already under, my recommendation is we don't worry about early dismissals.
"I know they are often problematic for parents," he said. "[This] is just one less complication as we contemplate going into an uncertain year."