School calendar approved with COVID improvements

Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School Committee members Pam Petschke and Jeffrey Houle. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

SOUTHWICK – The Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School Committee Feb. 16 approved changes to the 2021-2022 school calendar.

The biggest change was a shift in professional development days from the start of the school year to just before the December break.

Superintendent Jennifer Willard said the unusual school schedule this year brought to light some positives that teachers wanted to continue, including changing up the usual professional development schedule.

“Teachers found the days before Christmas they were much more focused on professional develoment than they were at the start of the year,” said Willard, noting that at the start of the year teachers are more focused on making sure their classrooms are ready for students.

There will still be one professional development day to begin the school year.

Willard said they tried to keep school weeks consistently five days as much as possible.

Another positive change created by COVID-19 was the shift to one day of parent-teacher conferences. Normally, there are half-days two weeks in a row to accommodate conferences during the day one day followed by an evening of conferences the following week. This year, teachers worked with students during the half-remote day on a Wednesday, then had conferences both in the afternoon and evening.

Willard said both teachers and parents gave feedback that they preferred this schedule.

One more change was the incirporation of the Juneteenth holiday.

“This is a holiday celebrated in Massachusetts,” Willard said.

Schools will celebrate it June 20 with a day off as directed by the state.

Also during the meeting Tuesday, committee member Pamela Petschke, also a member of the Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative Board of Directors, told the committee students attending the Career Tech program there would remain in-person four days a week, with Wednesday being a fully remote day. There had been a proposal to attend in-person five days a week.

“After speaking with principals from various districts it was decided that CTEC students would remain four days a week,” Petschke said.

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