HOUSTON – May 29, 2020 – The Spring ISD Board of Trustees approved a revised 2020-21 Instructional Calendar on Thursday by unanimous vote. The revised calendar incorporates recommendations from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) where intersessional breaks are embedded throughout the year to better enable school districts to respond to potential interruptions caused by COVID-19.
“This proposed calendar will give us flexibility to deal with whatever scenarios we may have to face,” said Superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson ahead of the vote at a special work session. “Based on what the TEA is telling us, the upcoming school year could potentially be disrupted, and this calendar would give us a way to maximize instruction, even if we’re forced into another COVID-related closure.”
Across the state, districts have been re-thinking their calendars after TEA recently issued three options for administrators to consider. Spring ISD’s new calendar most closely matches the intersessional calendar, with students starting in August and having longer breaks for Thanksgiving, in the winter and in the spring, with the last day of instruction being on June 25 for all grades except seniors, who would finish on May 28.
Specifically, the first day of the new school year will remain Aug. 17, with COVID-19 breaks scheduled for Oct. 5-9, Nov. 16-20, Jan. 4-8 and March 8-12. All of those breaks are set to occur around regularly scheduled vacation times, except for the week in October. The built-in breaks give the district more options to cover required instructional time. For instance, if a COVID-19 closure period was needed in the fall or early winter, one of the planned intersessional breaks later in the year could be used to recoup instructional time.
During those COVID-19 breaks, seniors will continue remote learning at home, which will give them the required instructional time to graduate by the end of May as with the traditional calendar. Students in prekindergarten through grade 11 would use that time for targeted instruction, if needed, to help stay on track with grade-level requirements or take part in enrichment activities. Watson emphasized that not all students would need to take part in the extra learning opportunities and that some families may use that time for traditional vacations or breaks.
“We feel this calendar will help us ensure we’ll be able to meet the instructional needs of all students, whether they need extra help, enrichment or acceleration,” Watson said. “We will also have the flexibility to adjust this calendar as needed because of the embedded breaks as well as the longer instructional year.”
Also at Thursday’s work session, the trustees heard about the district’s scenario-based planning process for the upcoming school year, including a plan for a continued remote learning option for those parents who have concerns about their children returning to a physical classroom next year.
“We will soon send out a survey to collect information from our families as we consider different models for students and staff,” Watson said. “Spring ISD has a strong commitment to offering opportunity and choice to our students and families. Our plan to offer an entirely remote instructional option for families who prefer to keep their children at home during the upcoming year aligns to this commitment .”