Hampton schools change 2 instructional days to full days off to give teachers time to recharge


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — In an effort to curb teacher burnout and combat short staffing in schools, Hampton City Schools is changing its calendar to add more time for teachers to reset and recharge.

In a news release Monday afternoon, the school division announced it would change Nov. 22 and 23 — originally planned instructional days — to full days off for both students and staff. School offices will be closed.

The change means the division will be closed from Monday, Nov. 22, through Friday, Nov. 26.

Hampton City Schools is one of several divisions in the Hampton Roads region to recently decide to adjust their school year calendars to give teachers more breathing room.

Last month, Suffolk Public Schools announced early dismissals every other Wednesday through the end of the year. Shortly after, Virginia Beach City Public Schools also made a similar decision, allowing for early dismissals so teachers to have uninterrupted planning time on certain dates. Some other divisions also followed suit.

“We recognize that the challenges of adjusting to a world impacted by COVID-19 have been real for all of us on many fronts, and the world of public education has been no exception. Shortages in staff, supply chain disruptions, and navigating through our daily health mitigation strategies are just a few of our challenges,” Hampton City Schools wrote in the news release Monday.

The division also said many teachers have had to give up existing planning time because they’ve needed to cover classes for others who are absent, adjust lessons for students who are in quarantine, and take on other additional duties.

The division said it’s still working to find longer-term solutions, such as growing the substitute applicant pool to address absences with additional substitute staff.

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The division acknowledged that adjustments to the calendar have an impact on families as well and could present challenges. However, in balancing the needs of both teachers and families, the division felt the best plan was to change Nov. 22 and 23 to full days off. The decision was made after school leaders conferred with the school board.

With the adjusted calendar, students in HCS virtual school model will continue to follow expectations regarding the academic calendar provided through the Virtual Virginia and Edgenuity programs.

All students will also be able to register for a meal kit, which will be handed out Thursday, Nov. 18 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Those kits need to be pre-ordered by midnight on Monday, Nov. 8.

More information on meal kit pickup and registration has already been given to families, the division said.

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