School Board outlines 2020-2021, 2021-2022 schedule

Accommodations made for Election Day, Rosh Hashanah


Kaia Myers

Former School Board chair Mary Tomback suggests alternate schedule options for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years during the school board meeting Jan. 27, 2020 in C350. Tomback and other School Board members recently met to discuss potential options for distance learning as COVID-19 rates rise.

Marta Hill, Isabel Kjaer, and Kaia Myers

According to former School Board Chair Nancy Gores, students having Election Day off in 2020 in an effort to preserve safety was possible because of the changing of professional development days. Professional development days that are typically later in the year were moved to Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. 

“The primary thinking was a matter of security and safety, we love to have our community in our buildings but we also want to do it in a way that keeps everybody safe,” Gores said. 

According to Osei, the decision to not have students in the building Nov. 3 for the 2020 election was made, in part, for safety considerations. 

“I get quite a few calls from parents about concerns about safety and having so many outside people in the building. I think the majority of that was from parents of elementary age children,” Osei said.

Gores said scheduling two days off for students limits the interaction of students and voting, but preserves safety. 

“We will see how it goes, we may change it back and not do that in the future,” Gores said. “I love having the community in, and there is a real upside to having the community in and having students see people coming to vote and see that voting is important.” 

Following past years’ system for choosing the first day of school, the 2021-2022 school year would start Sept. 7. However, the School Board is considering changing this because Sept. 7 is the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish news year, according to Superintendent Astein Osei. 

“The first day of school is such a significant day around building relationships with staff and others, to have any student have to miss is problematic, but then to have large numbers of students have to miss because they have to choose between religious observance and school,” Osei said.  

I am incredibly grateful to the teachers for being willing to extend their year through that weekend because I just feel it is really important to start school Sept. 8.

— Mary Tomback

The board looked at past data surrounding student attendance on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, and according to Osei, there were significant numbers of absences for religious purposes, leading to the schedule change.

“We decided to start a day later then we normally would have to be mindful of that, so that students can have a really strong start to the school year,” Osei said. 

Senior Emma Tight said the school should be equally considerate of all religious holidays.

“I think that’s really good because our school accommodates for a lot of Christian holidays so  everybody’s holiday should be accommodated,” Tight said.

According to School Board Chair Mary Tomback, delaying the start of school for the 2021-2022 school year is the only way to accommodate for the community. 

“I am incredibly grateful to the teachers for being willing to extend their year through that weekend because I just feel it is really important to start school Sept. 8,” Tomback said in the Dec. 9 School Board meeting. “It doesn’t sit right with me to be an inclusive community that asks such a large portion of our population to sacrifice the sense of community, school spirit and team building that happen on the first day of school.”