Board makes calendar and school day modifications to address stress, provide classroom flexibility

Henrico, Va. Oct. 28, 2021 — The Henrico School Board on Thursday approved several measures designed to address pandemic-related stress among students and staff members, and provide more opportunities to focus on students’ individual academic needs and social-emotional wellness.

  • At its work session, the Board approved a modified in-school version of the “Wellness Wednesdays” HCPS used in 2020-21. Starting in November, teachers would have more flexibility to address the individual academic, social and emotional needs of students. The time could be used for academic enrichment or remediation, extended class meetings, individual projects, social-emotional programs or other uses, depending on the needs of students.
  • The Board also approved adding two new half days to the 2021-22 school calendar — Nov. 19 and Dec. 10. Staff would use those afternoons for planning and catching up on their workloads.
  • Four days that are built into the calendar for inclement weather closings could become days off for students and staff members. If the days aren’t used for snow or other weather events, HCPS would close on four Fridays — March 11, April 1, May 27 and June 17.
  • If June 17 — currently a half day for students — is converted to a full day off, then Thursday, June 16 would become the last day of classes for students.

“As I visit schools and speak with students, I consistently hear two things,” said Amy Cashwell, HCPS superintendent. “Many young people and their families struggle with anxiety and feelings of stress, and they value last school year’s ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ and appreciate the time we previously devoted to social-emotional health. This flexibility will help students get more of what they need during the instructional day, whether that is academic, social or emotional.

“Similarly, our staff members have consistently risen to every challenge, but I see the physical and emotional toll the pandemic has taken on them. Building in more flexibility and adding time for them to catch up — and catch their breath — is essential to supporting them and keeping them healthy.”

Affected dates for the 2021-22 school year:

  • Nov. 19: New early release day
  • Dec. 10: New early release day
  • March 11: New student and staff holiday if inclement weather days aren’t used
  • April 1: New student and staff holiday if inclement weather days aren’t used
  • May 27: New student and staff holiday if inclement weather days aren’t used
  • June 17: New student and staff holiday if inclement weather days aren’t used (June 16 would become the final day of classes for students.)

To see a revised calendar for 2021-22, go to www.henricoschools.us/calendars/.