EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. There will be six more early dismissal days this school year after the school board adopted a new calendar on October 14th. (photo or infographic by WISD)
EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. There will be six more early dismissal days this school year after the school board adopted a new calendar on October 14th.

photo or infographic by WISD

Extra early release days added to school calendar to help teachers

Oct 23, 2020

Last week, the school board unanimously voted six new early release days. 

According to an email from WISD Director of Communications Jamie Fails the days were added to help teachers with their added workload due to remote and in person learning.

“In response to feedback from campus administrators and teachers indicating the need for additional time to plan for instruction, Dr. Harkrider presented a plan to the Board of Trustees at the Oct. 14, 2020 meeting that would add additional early release days to the current 2020-21 calendar,” the email said. “The Board unanimously approved adding six additional Early Release dates to the current calendar. The only change to the calendar is the addition of these dates. Everything else remains as it was on the prior calendar.”

These days are more for the teachers than the students. 

“I appreciate the early release days,” advanced academic English teacher Stephanie Lewis said. “With remote and face to face learning, there is a significant increase to administrative tasks required. Attendance, grades, forms, emails, and phone calls all require time to complete apart from having students in the class and teaching.”

Some students did not even realise the district added more early release days. 

“I did not know at first, but then I was very excited after realizing we had extra early release days,” senior Jonathan Meza. “I will spend that extra time sleeping.”

Not only are teachers trying to make their classes adaptable for those online, they also have more responsibilities during this time of COVID-19.

“Most of us are having to redesign courses to function online and this takes a lot more time than you would expect,” science teacher Thomas Story said. “We also have increased administrative responsibilities trying to stay on top of remote learners as well as in-person. And with the block scheduling, many of us only have planning periods every other day, so many weeks we may only have two planning periods to get all of these extra responsibilities caught up. We do our best with the time we are given, and the addition of these early release days are a welcome respite.”

Even though the early release days were made for teachers, students greatly value the extra time out of school.

“I was absolutely elated when I heard the news,” junior Josh Brookshire said. “I will use the extra time I have been granted in very productive ways, such as resting.”

Teachers have many parts to their jobs, and the extra early release days give them the opportunity to finish tasks they do not have much time for on any ordinary day. 

“Adding two hours is always helpful and the great part of it is the days are still considered full days for educational purposes,” German teacher Lisa Parrott said. “One of the things to get done during those days is making phone calls home. It is hard to find time for that part of the job.”

Most students will be spending their extra time being able to study and rest more.  

“I was very excited because I got to go home earlier,” senior Sammy Seppanen said. “I will probably go home and sleep and maybe do homework.”

Because these are for the teachers, many students did not know about the newly added early release days.

“I felt surprised because I had not known about these early release days,” sophomore Brooks Cesan said. 

By having time set aside to get work done, teachers take advantage of the extra time in order to finish tasks they may not be able to with the new school schedule. 

“The effort to grant more time for teachers to complete administrative tasks/paperwork is recognized and appreciated,” English teacher Christina Henderson said. “Any options giving more time for teachers are limited and regulated, so given the circumstances of our current situation, there is not much else that can be done. I will take any extra time I am afforded and use it wisely.”

Students get a little more study time with this time out of school.  

“I’ll probably use the extra time to catch up on homework,” junior Isaac Cherry-Baker said.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and with at least eight of them spent at school/teaching, it can be hard to juggle every task that is needed to be completed. 

“Time is a commodity right now that everyone wishes they had more to spare,” history teacher Whitney Taylor said. “I have been teaching for ten years, and there are times throughout each semester every  year where I have more items on my to do list than others, but this year has been an exception. I constantly feel like there are never enough hours in the day to do what I need in order to be a truly effective teacher for my students.”

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