Harford County Public Schools would have a post-Labor Day start to the 2021-22 school year under the proposed calendar, but with the first day of classes starting on a Wednesday.
The calendar, as developed by members of the board-appointed Calendar Committee, includes a post-Labor Day start date for the next school year on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. Classes for kindergarten through 12th grade start Wednesday because the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah falls the day before on Tuesday, Sept. 7 — Labor Day is Monday, Sept. 6.
The school year for pre-kindergarten students begins Friday, Sept. 10, according to the proposed calendar.
Schools and offices will be closed during one-day federal holidays, including Martin Luther King Day in January, Presidents' Day in February and Memorial Day in May, as well as the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur Sept. 16, and there will be an early dismissal on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
Thanksgiving break starts with an early dismissal on Wednesday, Nov. 24, and schools and offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, Nov. 25 and 26. Winter break also begins with an early dismissal on Thursday, Dec. 23. Students and staff return on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.
Spring break for students runs from Wednesday, April 13, when there will be an early dismissal, until Tuesday, April 19, with students returning to classes on April 20. Teachers will take part in professional development during that time on April 14 and 19.
Six make-up days for inclement weather have been built into the calendar, and Friday, June 10, 2022, will be the last day of school for kindergarten through 11th grade if none of those days are used. The last day will be Monday, June 20 if all of those days are used, however.
Jillian Lader, manager of communications for HCPS, presented the proposed calendar to the board during its Sept. 21 meeting.
Member Patrice Ricciardi, citing questions posed by the community on social media, asked why snow days have been built into next year since “we’re in a virtual learning environment” this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In 2021-22, we don’t know what that [learning] environment will be,” Lader replied, noting that she has seen the same questions on social media and that committee members discussed the issue “at length.”
Inclement weather days are required, according to school board policy, and Lader noted that officials are mindful of equity for students in terms of internet access in such situations.
The calendar committee will reconvene Dec. 2 to review the public comments and make any necessary edits or changes to the calendar before presenting the final version to the board for a vote Dec. 21, Lader said.
Member David Bauer asked about holding the vote during the board’s first meeting in December, which is scheduled for Dec. 7. He noted how close the Dec. 21 meeting is to Christmas, plus some meetings last year had been canceled due to inclement weather.
“It would be good to have some buffer space there,” he said.
Lader said the final calendar could be presented Dec. 7, “but it would be challenging,” noting the short period from when the committee meets five days prior and whether she would have enough time after that gathering to turn in all the necessary materials to the board prior to its meeting.
Bauer and board President Jansen Robinson agreed that a discussion about scheduling could be held during a future meeting.
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“It does not need to be decided tonight,” Bauer said.