MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Most have known that summer break was going to be shorter this year for Shelby County Schools due to the pandemic.
SCS didn’t start until Aug. 31 to prepare for virtual learning.
Due to a late start, the last day of school will be June 16, but now there’s a proposal on the table to shorten summer break even more.
Shelby County Schools superintendent Dr. Joris Ray is proposing the district’s first day of school be Aug. 9, a full week before the second option of Aug. 16.
The Shelby County School board will vote on the date for the first day of school for the calendar on April 6.
The proposal caused a mixed reaction on the WMC Action News 5 Facebook page.
One person wrote, “Virtual fatigue is real. Kids deserve a break.”
Another person wrote that the first day should be Aug. 16 to give school leaders additional time to clean schools before students return.
According to a survey the district says they conducted earlier this month of more than 10,000 teachers, parents and other stakeholders, a majority wanted the earlier start date.
“It’s going to be a shortened summer because of the extended school year this year, so it’s going to be short one way or another on the front end or the back so I’m more concerned about the number of days they have in the calendar that are absorbent and should not be,” said Keith Williams, executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.
Williams says he’s more concerned about the seven days traditionally built into the calendar for snow days.
Instead of teachers and students having the day off due to inclement weather, SCS has gone to a virtual platform which means teachers are still working.
“If it doesn’t come out, teachers will work extra days with no pay,” said Williams.
Teachers and students could have a busy summer.
In addition to summer school for students who failed classes, there will be a state-mandated four-week-long summer learning academy to make up for learning loss.
According to the TDOE, summer learning academies are optional for students but all Tennessee school districts are required to offer them.
SCS has identified priority students encouraged to attend summer learning academies based based on student i-Ready and universal screener results. Principals are reaching out to parents of students who need the additional support.
“I’m curious as to where that’s coming from because if we’re measured by the test then the last test we gave was in 2019 and our learning was far behind before we went into this pandemic,” said Williams.
School districts can also use a state-approved screener to determine learning loss, which may be necessary because Williams says test results for this year won’t be back in time to decide who should attend the summer session.