General Calendar Questions

How is the school division's calendar developed?

A calendar committee, which includes administrator, teachers, staff and parents meets several times to develop a draft calendar for the division. The committee takes into consideration state law, regional programs shared with other peninsula school division, and other factors affecting the calendar. The committee's recommendation is given to the division superintendent and senior staff, who present it to the School Board for final approval.

Why doesn't the school year begin in August like other school systems?

Prior to new legislation being enacted, the Code of Virginia required that the first day of school for students occurs after Labor Day unless the division has received a waiver from the Virginia Department of Education.

The new law, signed by Governor Northam on March 21, 2019, will permit school divisions ineligible for waivers to establish calendars that begin the school year no more than 14 days before Labor Day - so long as the division is closed the Friday before Labor Day.

Adjusting the start of the school year would impact staff, students and parents. As the calendar for the 2019-20 school year was already under development, the division will be seeking stakeholder feedback in regards to adjusting the 2020-21 calendar to incorporate an earlier start date.

Are any make-up days built into the calendar?

State law requires that the school year be 180 instructional days or 990 instructional hours. While the division has had years that included more than 180 days, the 2019-20 calendar has 180 instructional days.

Once a division closes for weather or other reasons, the state allows the division to either make up days according to a formula (make up the first five days missed, then one day for every two days missed) or use the instructional hours exceeding the 990 minimum, often called "banked time". While the division does have banked time built into the school year, the total banked time can be unique to a school or school level due to different schedules.

Why is Veterans Day no longer a student holiday?

The calendar committee identified several guiding considerations in the development of the school calendar: maintain a 3-day break at Thanksgiving, explore options for a 2-week winter break, and examine ways to decrease instructional fragmentation in November, December and January. To achieve these objectives, and meet the 180 required instructional days, Veterans Day was identified as an early release day rather than full student holiday.

Why is there a student delay on March 3?

More than half of the division's school buildings are used as election polling locations. While the division typically closes for general election days to allow for the traffic and parking congestion at school sites, schools have not historically closed on primary election days. However, the York County Registrar anticipates high voter turnout for the 2020 presidential primary, especially in the morning hours. In order to meet the 180-day requirement for the school calendar without impacting Thanksgiving or winter break dates, the division has opted to use a delayed arrival on March 3. Staff will report on time, while students will have a 2-hour delay.

Why are there only two early release days at the end of each semester?

The early release dates at the end of each semester were established to support the administration of mid-term and final exams as well as administrative and instructional duties. The division has proposed moving from semester exams to quarterly assessments beginning with the 2019-20 school year. As such, the calendar has restored one day to a full instructional day and maintained two early release days each semester.


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