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Bedford County School Board OKs five new teacher workdays for 2021-22

Bedford County School Board OKs five new teacher workdays for 2021-22

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Bedford County Public Schools is taking steps to support its teachers with more time to catch up on planning and grading.

The Bedford County School Board unanimously voted Thursday to adopt a change to its 2021-22 school year calendar — changing four regular school days and one professional development day to additional teacher workdays.

LeeAnn Calvert, executive director of human resources and talent development for Bedford schools, said Superintendent Marc Bergin met with school-level staff and members of the Bedford County Education Association, and heard feedback that teachers have struggled this school year to get planning and grading done as they often are using their planning periods to remediate students or cover other classes and duties due to staff absences.

This change added a teacher workday approximately every three weeks through the end of the school year; those workdays are set for Nov. 12, Jan. 24, Feb. 7, Feb. 28 and May 9.

Feb. 7 originally was a professional development day, while the other days were regular school days. Now, schools will be closed to students and the public those days, and teachers will be able to use them for individual and team planning.

Calvert reiterated, “These are teacher planning days, team planning days; they are not to be used for professional development.”

Calvert said the division was able to make this change while still complying with the state requirement of 990 instructional hours for the school year and without adding additional days to the school year. Calvert added the division still has roughly 66 hours, or 11 days, that may be used in the event of inclement weather or other unexpected school closures.

Board member Marcus Hill said while he supported this extra time for teachers, he did express a concern about removing instructional hours for students who may be trying to catch up from extended absences due to quarantine following a potential exposure to COVID-19.

“My concern is: How will these four days affect our students? Because we’ve got way too many that are not in class,” Hill said.

Board chair Jason Johnson thanked the executive staff for working with teachers to determine “a good compromise” to get them the extra time they need while being sustainable.

Ultimately, the calendar change passed 7-0.

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