The 2020-2021 school year calendar was unanimously approved at the April 16 board meeting. Courtesy Scarborough Board of Education

SCARBOROUGH — The Board of Education recently approved the 2020-2021 Scarborough school calendar.

Despite discussion about the effects the loss of classroom time — because of concerns about transmission of COVID-19 on students — board members did not approve additional prep days for teachers of older elementary students.

On April 16, the board unanimously approved a calender with the first student day being on Sept. 1 and the last student and teacher day scheduled for June 16 of next year.

As planned, the calendar includes 177 students days and 182 staff days. There will be four staff days, they will take place on Aug. 31, Oct. 9, Nov. 3, and March 12.

Winter break will begin on Dec. 23 and go through Dec. 31. The weeks of Feb. 15 and April 19 will be school vacation weeks.

The Board of Education had discussed the calendar in a previous workshop in February and  the item was sent back to the policy committee, said board Chair Leanne Kazilionis.

Discussion about revisions to the calendar that would allow teachers extra time to prepare in the fall took place.

“We talked a lot about the equity of having days for kindergarten through second grade teachers to meet with their students in advance of school days so they could get a really good sense where they were, and that the third through fifth grade teachers don’t get that,” board member Hillory Durgin said. “I understand this is a crazy time and there are advantages for keeping the calendar the same, but I feel like if there were ever a year that those grade three through five teachers would need that extra time to find out where their kids were at, it would be the fall of next year.”

Limitations to the community’s schedule would keep the calendar from changing much, said Assistant Superintendent Diane Nadeau.

“We want to make sure that everybody understands that when we craft a calendar we need to make sure that it’s within five days of all our community partners we work with for vocational programming,” she said. “So at the current calendar you’re at, we are within four days of that, and so our ability to revise this significantly is really limited to one day. Otherwise, we’d not be in sync with our community partners for that.”

She said that there was concern on the policy committee’s part about asking parents to flex in the fall, as schools go back to a regular schedule.

“Our current situation is really creating a lot of stress for parents and so the potential stress that could be created by having additional time — without school days per se, but with appointments — would make that even more difficult for parents.”

The board did not add any additional prep days for third through fifth graders at the meeting.

April Sither, board member, said that enough time and thought had gone into the calendar that she felt comfortable approving the calendar.

“We can continue to look at the calendar and make a tweak here or there, but the community is really waiting for guidance on this — the teachers are waiting,” she said. “So I’m certainly never one to advocate for putting something through if it’s not ready, but in this case I’m satisfied that the calendar has had a lot of eyes on it, and a lot of consideration has gone into the scheduling and I hope that we can put this through so the community can start to plan.”

The decision to approve the calendar was unanimous.

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