State school board sets virtual meeting Monday to discuss virus

DOVER — As school boards across the state determine new academic calendars, the state school board will meet virtually at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss COVID-19’s impact on public and charter schools throughout Delaware.

The board plans to discuss updates from the Delaware Department of Education regarding the coronavirus. On the agenda is a discussion of extensions for school districts to adopt new calendars for the 2020-21 school year, with a public comment session.

The meeting is the second the state board has held virtually — it approved three charter modifications in March — but the first to come after Gov. John Carney announced schools would close through May 15. The meeting can be accessed at global.gotomeeting.com/join/401641413, or by phone +1 (571) 317-3112, using the access code 401-641-413.

When Gov. Carney mandated that schools close, his letter to families and educators noted that districts and charters would work with their staffs to create remote instruction plans. Many have begun rolling out programming this week.

He also said that the school calendar would likely go beyond when it was scheduled to end, but added that Secretary of Education Susan Bunting plans to recommend forgiveness to the state board of education so that no district or charter would go beyond the end of June.

The state also submitted a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education requesting that Delaware would be exempt from assessments for the 2019-20 school year.

Calendar adjustments are on the agenda for many school boards, as they move their meetings to alternate formatting.

Each year, when designing calendars, districts must create a calendar that hits 1,060 hours for students in K-11, 1,032 hours for seniors, and 188 days for teachers.

In a virtual meeting Thursday night, Lake Forest’s school board opted to remove its spring break slated for mid-April. Students and educators will still have off on April 10, Good Friday, and April 13, Easter Monday — a model other districts have employed when altering their calendars.

“This calendar adjustment would trade those four days [off in April] for four days in June,” said Earle Dempsey, school board president, at the meeting.

Seniors are slated to finish school on June 1, with students in K-11 following on June 12. The year would end for teachers on June 18.

At the end of March, Woodbridge amended its calendar, so the last day for high school seniors is June 19, and students in K-11 is June 26.

Milford also modified its calendar, with the last day of school for seniors slated for June 5, if coursework is complete. Students in K-11 are set to complete the year on June 19.

Caesar Rodney’s amended calendar sees a bulk of its students completing school by June 16. Seniors are slated to be out by May 29.

With the somewhat unexpected two week break in mid-March that ran from the 16 to the 27, some school districts’ amended calendars have abbreviated spring break, and will have a four day weekend between April 10, Good Friday, and April 13.

The calendar is a topic of discussion for Capital and Appoquinimink over the next week.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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