Ohio County Schools Survey Responses Favor Later Start to Academic Year
WHEELING — Coming off a year that was as much online as in-school, participants in a survey heavily favored a later return to school, with a 2021-2022 school year of August 25 to May 27.
There were 1,106 who participated in the survey, consisting of 606 parents, 353 county employees, 73 students, and 71 community members. Of the respondents, 437 voted for the later calendar year, with 163 instead saying they preferred an Aug. 18-May 23 schedule.
The final day for staff would be one week before and after this schedule. Human Resource Director Susan Nolte presented this information to the Ohio County Board of Education at a public hearing Monday evening prior to the board meeting.
While presenting the results of the survey, Nolte also told the board of an option to add 30 minutes to the daily schedule, which, under the state code, would free up time for numerous extra benefits for the county schools and personnel. These include five make-up days, such as snow days, five professional learning days for educators in lieu of student instruction, time to account for delays and early dismissals, and the option for five non-traditional instruction days.
The non-traditional instruction days, also known as the Summer Saver Plan in years past, involves remote learning, and would allow for a means to hold schooling remotely rather than require make-up days.
Nolte said there were only a handful of years in the recent past which required more than the 10 days this would allocate the school, and require additional days made up at the end of the year. Thanks to 2020’s shift to online and remote learning, the school district is now in a better position to offer the option to do so when necessary, when previously there was not a mechanism in place.
“Traditionally, we’ve used our five free snow days, and then we elected to make up those days after that because we didn’t feel, as a county, we were … able to offer good online content that would be substantial,” Nolte said. “What we want to do now is use our five snow days, then our five summer saver days as remote learning opportunities for our kids, and then start to make up days.
“I had to go back into the early 2000s and 90s until we needed to start making up days,” she added. “We traditionally hover around 10 days. What that allows us to do is to preserve spring break. People get upset when we start making up days during spring break. Hopefully that’ll be more beneficial for our parents.”
Monday’s public hearing had no guests in attendance and no comments to the board. The next public hearing will be on April 26 at 5:45 p.m., and the board is expected to vote on the calendar at a later date.