This story was updated at 5:40 p.m. Nov. 9, 2021, to add comments from Jennifer Martin.
Montgomery County schools will be closed the day before Thanksgiving as the district expects a substitute teacher shortage to hamstring operations.
The school board approved the change to the school calendar on Tuesday in a unanimous vote.
Interim Superintendent Monifa McKnight said a national substitute teacher shortage has affected MCPS and led to teachers and paraeducators having to cover extra classes when a colleague takes time off.
Because a larger number of teachers generally take the day before Thanksgiving off, the district expects to have significantly more vacancies than can be covered.
McKnight added that the district has historically had a lower attendance rate on the day before the holiday.
The news was welcome to some educators who in recent weeks have voiced concerns about the “dire” staffing shortage and the burden it has placed on them.
But some parents said changing the calendar on short notice is a burden.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, directly after the board’s vote, parent Jennifer Reesman said the change is inconsiderate for parents in health care, essential workers and others, who cannot easily change their schedule or find child care.
“You just told us all you don’t care,” Reesman said.
State law requires that school districts provide at least 180 days of instruction each academic year. MCPS’ calendar includes 182 days, so it will not need to make up the day later in the year.
Jennifer Martin, president of the county teachers union, said during a press conference on Tuesday that she saw the announcement as “an attempt to start to address the concerns we have about our workload.”
But, she added: “It is not a solution in and of itself” and was “an 11th-hour kind of a decision.”
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org