ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Beginning Monday, Accomack County high school students will have a longer school day, a longer first semester and a longer school year.
It comes after the Accomack County School Board was notified back in December by central office that an error had been found in how the district calculated state-mandated instructional time for high schools.
The board approved the changes at its Tuesday meeting and they will be in effect through the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
The school day for high schoolers will be extended by 22 minutes, adding time on both ends. High schoolers will also begin school at 7:15 a.m. versus 7:30 a.m., and they will have to stay an extra seven minutes, getting out at 2:30 p.m. instead of 2:23 p.m.
Each class block will be extended from 93 to 100 minutes and there will be less transition time between blocks.
School division officials said they would begin communicating the changes to families ahead of the start date for the schedule change. The item was not previously on the board’s agenda, and at least one board member asked why this was not put on the agenda previously.
The first semester will also be extended by eight days, making it 88 days instead of 80. The last day of the first semester will now be Feb. 3, followed by a teacher workday Feb. 6. The start of the second semester will begin Feb. 7.
The second semester will now be 84 days, with the last day of school being June 12 instead of June 9. Teacher workdays are now scheduled for June 13-14 instead of June 12-13.
Students will now have to go to school on President’s Day, Feb. 20 as well as April 10, which is the Monday after spring break. Spring vacation will now be April 3-7.
Previously scheduled graduation dates will not be affected.
None of the changes will impact elementary and middle school students except for the two days students will now be in school – Feb. 20 and April 10.
The school division said it has communicated the changes with its Transportation Department, because it does tiered runs and shares buses.
On the previously approved 2022-2023 school calendar, it had 1,068 instructional hours (176 days times six hours and 10 minutes of instruction per day, which comes out to 1,086 hours, less nine, two-hour early dismissals totaling 18 hours). It had built in 10 inclement weather days totaling 62 hours into the calendar. It said at that time that the calendar could be adjusted based on the number of inclement weather days used.
At the Dec. 6 School Board meeting, members voted to extend winter vacation for three days, closing schools Dec. 19-21 for all students, teachers and 10-month employees, but the board said it did so before learning about the issues with high school instructional time.