2019-20 school year features staggered starts in Chesterfield

2019-20 school year features staggered starts in Chesterfield
The School Board approved the changes in February.

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield County Public Schools is getting ready for the 2019-2020 school year with several changes.

Among the changes, which were approved at a school board meeting on Feb. 12, are staggered start dates and a full week off for students at Thanksgiving.

The changes approved for elementary schools:

  • Students in grades 1-5 will report on Sept. 3.
  • Half of kindergarten classes will attend Sept. 3-4 (students with last names between A-L) while the other half (last names M-Z) will attend Sept. 5-6. (This may be different as some schools, which will notify parents in cases of “alphabetical imbalance.”)

"For someone who has never ridden a bus or gone to school, the transition into kindergarten can be an anxious experience for the student,” said Superintendent Merv Daugherty, who joined the school system this past fall. “Splitting the size of a kindergarten classroom in half the first week allows teachers to begin to develop relationships, introduce routines and establish expectations with a more reasonable number of students.”

For middle and high schools:

  • The first day of school for students in sixth and ninth grades, and students new to a middle or high school will be Sept. 3.
  • All other middle and high school students will report to school on Sept. 4.

The school system says the first day for sixth- and ninth-grade students, as well as those new to the school, would be an orientation day.

“Providing a day where we meet and serve only students new to the middle and high school levels allows our staff members the opportunity to begin to form supportive relationships that will last through a student’s time at that school,” said Daugherty said. “It also will provide an equitable opportunity for all students to have access to their teachers, develop an understanding of the school culture and learn more about the expectations they will face as student learners.”

Daugherty introduced similar calendar initiatives in Delaware prior to joining Chesterfield County Public Schools.

“The staff and students benefited from the opportunity for a more personalized transition and introduction to a new setting,” Daugherty said. “While our middle schools and high schools currently have terrific transition plans in place, this proposed initiative would provide all students access to this opportunity in an equitable manner.”

In addition to those changes, a teacher workday on Election Day (Nov. 5) and parent-teacher conferences were moved to Nov. 25-26, which gives students a full week off from school the week of Thanksgiving.

The calendar also includes two full weeks and three weekends for Winter Break (Dec. 23-Jan. 3), Spring Break April 6-10 and a student and staff holiday on April. 13.

Chesterfield continues to plan for five early-release days - Jan. 31, Feb. 14, April 3, June 11 and June 12 for next school year.

Schools also will be closed on Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), Feb. 17 (Presidents Day) and May 25 (Memorial Day)

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