Superintendent Chuck Klaus has announced his recommendation for a traditional post-Labor Day calendar in the 2022-’23 school year, the result of community and staff surveys.
Klaus made his announcement at the Dec. 9 board of education meeting. The survey went out earlier this year.
The superintendent gave a presentation in October about other possible calendars, including one that would begin the Monday before Labor Day and another that would start two weeks before the holiday.
“The purpose of the survey was to get a general idea of what the concerns were,” Klaus explained. “Why would people want to [keep the calendar] or not want to do it? What are the concerns or the reasons why we wouldn’t want to do this?”
The survey got 887 responses that showed 52 percent of residents and staff have no concerns about changing the current calendar and 47 percent do. The nearly 50-50 split was noted at all grade levels, with 66 percent of the staff expressing concerns. Close to 60 percent of respondents believe it isn’t necessary to change the calendar at all.
Responses show that concerns include the need for child care, if the school year begins earlier; shortened summers; and disrupted education due to more days off in the beginning of the year.
“If this were zero, then we’d be talking about a board where we’re deciding if we’re going to shake things up or make a change against vacation time,” Klaus noted of respondents who believe no change in the calendar is needed. “That’s different from people who don’t understand or think it’s necessary.”
Klaus said next steps include continued discussion of the matter at future PTA meetings and other community settings in the upcoming months, and a proposal by May for the 2023-’24.
Later in the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Gino Priolo shared district COVID updates.
“We’ve vaccinated nearly 500 students,” he said, adding that there will be another vaccination clinic on Dec. 23.
Priolo also explained that since more age groups are eligible for the vaccine, he has changed the way the district reports vaccination rates, with numbers broken down by school rather than collectively.
“Before authorization came down for 5- through 11-year-olds, our vaccination rate was hovering around 88 percent,” Priolo reported. “But now that we cast a much wider net, our overall rate has gone down, because the eligible population has only been eligible for the past few weeks.”
The schools will offer voluntary PCR COVID testing in two phases, one on Mondays after school and the other when students or staff show symptoms that arise before quarantine. Priolo also reported that the free PCR test continues to be the gold standard, a shallow nasal swab in both nostrils with a result back in 36 hours.
In other news, the Rotary District 7505 recognized Alexis Hochgertel and Jack O’Donnell as first- and second-place winners, respectively, in the RYLA Video Essay Contest
The next district meeting will be a reorganization session for the board to swear in four new members on Jan. 6, at 7 p.m., in the Haddonfield Memorial High School Library.