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CCSD Votes to Push School Start Date Back to Sept. 8

The Clarke County Board of Education voted Thursday night to move the start of the school year back more than a month, to the Tuesday after Labor Day, due to the current spike in COVID-19 cases in Athens.

Almost 60% of more than 3,600 parents and teachers who responded to a survey said they preferred Sept. 8 over Aug. 3 or Aug. 17.

Delaying the first day of school will give teachers more time to prepare for the possibility of shifting to distance learning in case it’s unsafe for students to return to class in person this fall, Chief Academic Officer Brannon Gaskins said. Currently CCSD plans to offer parents the option of in-person or distance learning, but if the pandemic doesn’t improve, high schools and eighth grade may start the year at home, giving K-7 students more room to spread out.

The school year will still end May 20. Some holidays and parent-teacher conference days will be eliminated, but students will still only receive 155 days of instruction, as opposed to 176 if school were to start Aug. 3 as originally planned. However, 15–20 instructional days could be restored if the state receives a waiver on standardized testing.

Under the approved calendar, spring break will be Apr. 2–9. CCSD’s spring break has traditionally coincided with UGA’s in early to mid-March so that parents who work at the city’s largest employer can stay home with their children or schedule vacations. But two-thirds of those surveyed wanted a later spring break this year.

The board gave administrators the authority to adjust the calendar as needed.

The vote was 8–1, with Antwon Stephens voting no.