Shorter fall break for Decatur schools in 2022 calendar

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  • Michael Douglas
    Michael Douglas
    American actor and producer

Jan. 14—Summer break for Decatur City Schools will be almost a week longer this year than in 2021, but fall break will be shorter and more days will be set aside for remote learning and professional development under the system's planned 2022-23 calendar.

"We're going back to the way we've always done it," said Superintendent Michael Douglas. "The only reason we got a week (for fall break) last year was because we started school the first week of August."

Teachers will return from summer break this year on Aug. 5 and students on Aug. 10. Those dates were Aug. 2 for teachers and Aug. 5 for students in 2021. School also will end a day earlier in May this year, helping lengthen the summer break.

Douglas said the reason fall break lasted as long as it did in 2021 is because the summer break was shortened to combat COVID-19 transmission.

"This year, we felt like our teachers needed a full summer," Douglas said.

Douglas also wanted to have more professional development days for his teachers to instruct them on new math and English courses of study as they pertain to the state's Literacy Act. He said the English Language Arts course next year will change from whole language instruction to a more phonics-based instruction in elementary schools.

"The state keeps changing the course of study," Douglas said. "We got a new math course of study this year and we'll get a new ELA study next year. You need days for your teachers to look at the new standards."

Decatur has scheduled remote learning/educator development days on Sept. 2, Oct. 11 and Nov. 1.

"The remote learning days will go hand in hand with the professional development days," said Board President Michele Gray King. "A teacher can assign work ahead of time and the student can work independently."

Douglas said COVID-19 was not a factor in deciding on the new calendar.

"When we did the calendar, COVID wasn't an issue," Douglas said. "That's when we had under 100 cases."

The Decatur City school board approved the 2022-23 calendar at a board meeting in December and King said that it was developed to mirror other area school system calendars.

"As far as the process goes, we tried to do our spring break with the Madison County and Huntsville City schools," King said. "For the last couple of years we've tried to design our calendar to mesh with the surrounding (school) systems."

Spring break in 2023 will be March 13-17 during the month's third week, just like this school year's calendar, but fall break has been shortened to just one day on Oct. 10.

"We started a little later (in 2022) as opposed to (2021) because we reduced the fall break to one day rather than one week," King said.

Thanksgiving holidays will be held from Nov. 21-25 and Christmas break will be from Dec. 19-30. Students will return after Christmas break on Jan. 4, 2023, following two days of professional development for educators.

For the current academic calendar, graduations for the class of 2022 will be held on May 24 for Austin High and May 26 for Decatur High. Those dates are subject to change if school closings require makeup days.

wesley.tomlinson@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438.

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