Seguin ISD’s upcoming school year will look similar to pervious years, but with some changes officials hope will help students bridge educational gaps and give teachers a little more time.
The Seguin ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 2021-22 calendar with six intercessional days built in.
“Overall, you look at the calendar and it doesn’t look a whole lot different than what we are really used to,” Seguin ISD Chief Communications Officer Sean Hoffmann told the board.
The approved calendar boasts three days in the fall and three in the spring for students who are struggling academically to get intervention.
“The purpose of adding these intersession days is to address the academic gaps that exist and unfinished learning,” Seguin ISD Superintendent Matthew Gutierez said. “There is a significant need to do something that is innovative and creative and out of the box to be able to work with students and get them on level as much as we can.”
While educators normally battle summer slide — the loss of learning over the summer break — Gutierrez said there is a greater decline with COVID slide.
He explained that a recent study by the Texas Education Agency showed students across the state lost an average of 5.7 months of learning. The intersession days are to give the students intervention in a smaller class setting during the school year instead of after.
“It is critical that we address this problem as a result of COVID and I think the best way to go about it is to build in time,” he said.
If successful, Gutierrez hopes to extend the amount of time from six days a year to 10.
“What we are going to do in the upcoming year is utilize that time to really address the unfinished learning and academic gaps with the hopes of looking the following year to look at those 10 days we were initially looking at,” he said. “It moves away from the traditional calendar and, in fact, a lot of parents were asking that we add more days. We had parents on the committee that wanted more days for students they know are struggling.”
Only a small portion of students — those identified by teachers as needing the assistance — would use the intersession days, while the majority of students, teachers and staff would get those days off.
The days are shortened and designed to interest children, making them want to come to school, Hoffmann said.
“The environment is going to be … a camp-like setting,” he said. “There will be one-on-one instruction in a small classroom. It will be a chance where these students will want to come. In addition to the intervention, we have to create an environment where they want to be there and not seen as a drag where they have to go in and do this because mom and dad are making them.”
The intersession days are set for Sept. 29, Sept. 30, Oct. 1, and Feb. 2-4.
The new calendar also creates five days of early release throughout the year for students, creating half teacher work days, Hoffmann said.
“This will give our teachers some time during that afternoon to either do professional learning or engage in a work afternoon where they can catch up and possibly do parent conferences, possibly do grading just to kind of give them a break during that time,” he said.
The Superintendent’s Teacher Communication Council chooses a Wednesday in the months of October, November, February, March and April.
Another small change is school will start on Monday, Aug. 16 as opposed to beginning classes mid-week with an end date of Thursday, June 2, Hoffmann said.
Ball Early Childhood Center students will still have a Wednesday, Aug. 18 start day to ease them into school, Hoffmann said.
“We feel confident that we’re going to make it work,” he said. “I think the fear of no summer has really been dispelled by this calendar. Our start and end dates are not a whole lot different than what we’ve been used to.”
The calendar still hosts the traditional days off Seguin ISD staff, students and parents are familiar with including Labor Day, fair day, a week-long Thanksgiving break, two weeks at Christmas, Martin Luther King Day and spring break, among others.
Felicia Frazar is the managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .