In response to “We deserve better from the school district,” (Jan. 21) I wish to clarify the facts and share the reasons and rationale behind the decision for the revised 2020-21 school calendar, which was approved by the Board of Education on Thursday, Jan. 16.
We are not losing any instructional time in the school year. These decisions were made specifically to ensure that no closure days are done so at the expense of days in the classroom. As has been the case since the 2003-2004 school year, the fall semester has always had fewer days than the spring semester due to our families’ strong desire to finish the fall semester before Winter break while not having school start too early in August.
It’s true that American Government and Economics are semester length classes (which is the only high school course in this situation), and I am addressing this by working with each high school principal to find creative ways we can accommodate all students.
New school schedules and days off impact family schedules in many ways and we don’t take these decisions lightly. We take every effort to balance the many interests at stake, but we recognize that no matter what decision we make, it will not please everyone.
For the 2020-21 school year, we are responding not only to the days lost due to fire, smoke and PG&E's power shut-offs in Napa, but also to California state educators, who have strongly urged all school districts to have firm makeup plans in place now for cancellations to ensure they can be reimbursed for class time.
Due to the somber reality of fire danger and power outages that take place in October and November, the fall semester has become extremely unpredictable, forcing us to look to spring as the time frame to “make up” potential lost days.
That said, we are committed to finding the right balance between those who prefer longer winter breaks, and those who feel the summer break should start earlier. For this reason, we are organizing a community advisory committee to analyze and recommend solutions for how to account for fire-season school closures in 2021-22 and beyond. We will be alerting the community and seeking volunteers when this is established.
Like our neighboring school districts and families in California, we’re all facing a new normal. At NVUSD, we always make decisions with the most important element at the forefront, which is to ensure a safe and productive environment for our students to thrive and learn.
Napa Valley Unified School District
Editor's note: This letter has been modified to reflect a additional comment the author wished to make, but which was submitted too late to be included in the printed edition on Jan. 28.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!