The proposed 2019-20 academic year calendar for Hall County Schools includes two days for school-from-home study as officials continue to support education through new means and sources of content.
The calendar, which the board of education will vote on at its next meeting, Monday, Nov. 26, also includes an extra day (three instead of two) during fall break.
If approved, students would begin school on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, and finish on May, 22, 2020.
The proposed calendar comes at a time when a Georgia Senate study committee has been meeting to evaluate how a shift to a later start date would impact students and families, regional economies that depend on the tourism and hospitality industries, and the interests of local school districts.
Officials with both Hall County and Gainesville City school systems have said that it’s important that local districts have the flexibility to design their school calendars around their individual community needs.
For example, Hall County Schools has utilized school-from-home days that are not required by any state or federal education mandates, and has included courses in media bias, personal finance, CPR, first aid and bicycle safety.
A focus on the U.S. Constitution, an ongoing effort that includes an entire week recognizing local efforts to educate students on the country’s founding principles, has also been included in school-from-home curriculum.
“I’m the last one to figuratively and literally come on board with (the school-from-home) initiative,” said Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield.
But the results so far have the “old guy believing in it,” Schofield added.
In February, Hall County tracked participation among students in the digital learning courses, with 63 percent of elementary students, 78 percent of middle schoolers and 66 percent of high schoolers completing some of the coursework.
At the end of a five-day period to engage in the coursework, 85 percent of middle schoolers and 79 percent of high schoolers partially completed the work.
And at the end of a 10-day period for elementary students, 90 percent had completed some of the coursework.
During a school-from-home day in September, 98 percent of high school students in the district logged into the district’s learning portal LaunchPoint to work on assignments developed at the classroom and individual school level.
In October, 97 percent of high school students logged in during a school-from-home day.
The growth in online learning, and the available opportunities for online college and university studies, compelled school officials to spotlight these efforts in developing a proposed calendar.
“We really have an obligation, we believe, to expose kids to this kind of learning,” Schofield said. “So we’re moving with the times.”