Montgomery County Public Schools students will start the next academic year before Labor Day for the second consecutive year.
On Tuesday, the Board of Education approved the calendar for the 2021-22 school year, with classes beginning Aug. 30 and ending June 15.
The 2020-21 academic calendar includes 182 instructional days. The state requires at least 180.
One full noninstructional day is scheduled for teacher planning and grading at the end of each quarter. Spring break will span 10 days.
For several years, an executive order from Gov. Larry Hogan mandated that school districts start the academic year after Labor Day. The Maryland General Assembly overturned that order in 2019, and MCPS started the current school year before the holiday, as well.
MCPS Associate Superintendent of Operations Essie McGuire said the district received more than 7,500 comments from the public about the calendar options, with the majority favoring the Aug. 30 start date.
The school board rejected a calendar option that scheduled the first day of classes for Sept. 8, the second day of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.
Nearly 500 people signed an online petition urging the school board to not start the school year during the holiday.
“[T]he very consideration of this first day being, for so many students, on Rosh Hashanah, their religion’s most important and holy day of the year, is an affront to all students, staff, and families in the MCPS community and a blatant insult to those directly affected,” the petition said. “This strikes a sensitive chord, especially to happen after a year throughout which we’ve all fought together for racial equality, for representation, and for each other.”
Usually, the next academic year’s calendar is approved by December, but in September, the school board delayed creating the 2021-22 calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic. Board members wanted more time, so they would know more about the virus and its impact.
Key components of the approved calendar:
• Winter break: Dec. 23 through Jan. 2
• Spring break: Monday, April 11, through Monday, April 18
• The end of the first three academic quarters, with no school for students: Nov. 4, Jan. 24, April 1
• Days off: Sept. 7 and 16; Nov. 4; Nov. 25 and 26; Jan. 17; Feb. 1 and 21; May 3 and 30
Innovative school calendar
Two Silver Spring elementary schools will have an “innovative calendar” for a third year, as part of a pilot program testing longer academic years at high-needs schools.
Arcola and Roscoe Nix elementary schools will have a 210-day school year, beginning on July 12. The year will end June 13.
Following a stretch of instruction in July and early August, Arcola and Nix will have a break from Aug. 20 to 29, before resuming classes again on Aug. 30, in alignment with the traditional school calendar.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org