BOX ELDER | Douglas School District students and teachers will have a different schedule when they return to class in the fall.
Members of the Board of Education approved the modified schedule Monday evening, which adds 25 minutes to each day, but also reduces the number of school days from 169 to 160.
Teachers will head back to school Aug. 18 for nine days of professional development before students arrive on Aug. 31. The last day of school would be May 19, 2021.
Superintendent Alan Kerr said the professional development days will be used to get faculty up to speed on procedures and technology if the district has to go to distance-learning protocols because of another outbreak of COVID-19.
"The thought was that we needed our teachers all trained up on whatever platform their building uses. So, we front-loaded the (professional development) that way we can gear up if we shut down," Kerr said. "The other part was we thought because the students were so far behind after missing three months, they needed more instructional time."
Kerr said there will probably be a need to remediate many students because of the time outside of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Gov. Kristi Noem instructed all public schools to close beginning March 16, Douglas Schools distributed instructional materials for parents and students to continue learning at home.
Board President Cathy Melendez said she understands many students may be behind on their learning, and the school district may be forced to close again. She said the additional professional development days for teachers and the extended time spent in the classroom are important.
"The biggest part was giving teachers so much training at the beginning of the year, having the kids start later is they all need to be on the same platform and not all doing it in different platforms. That will help the parents as well," Melendez said.
In addition to the later start date and extended classroom time, the new schedule will allow students to have a full week off during Thanksgiving.
The final vote was 3-2 in favor of adopting the new schedule. Board members Ben Frerichs and Chris Misselt opposed the schedule.
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