Gwinnett school district delays second semester by one day

200716-Suwanee-J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, listens to public comment during a school board meeting Thursday evening July16, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
200716-Suwanee-J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, listens to public comment during a school board meeting Thursday evening July16, 2020. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Students in Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin their second semester Jan. 7, rather than Jan. 6 as originally planned.

The delay will allow teachers more time to plan lessons that will be given simultaneously in person and virtually, to those learning from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Associate Superintendent Steve Flynt briefed the school board on the changes Thursday during a work session. The calendar does not require board approval.

The district will also hold four “digital learning days” when all students will work on assignments independently from home so teachers can plan together in school. The dates are Jan. 26, March 2, March 16 and April 20.

“It is taking a good bit of planning to get these lessons ready,” Flynt said. “Through an adjustment for next semester’s calendar, we think we can maybe help that a little bit.”

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The district has also settled on a calendar for next school year after soliciting feedback from local school councils on three proposed options. Almost all schools selected the option that begins the school year Aug. 4 after seven days of pre-planning.

Students will return to class buildings in a staggered fashion over three days, in a process similar to the beginning of this school year, when the district staggered its in-person opening over three weeks.

“When we talk to staff at schools and principals, they enjoyed that and they thought it was very helpful,” Flynt said.

Six digital learning days are built into next year’s calendar, as well as a fall break, a new February break, a two-week winter break and a weeklong spring break. The year will end May 25, 2022.

Administrators did not plan out the next two school years, as they have done in the past.

“We’re still in a bit of a tumultuous time,” Flynt said.

For now, Flynt said the district is planning for next school year to be conducted fully in person, except for the designated digital learning days.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen with the virus and the possible vaccines,” Flynt said. “We’ll see.”

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