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Calendar Committee suggests returning to post-Labor Day start in 2019

However, it recommended beginning school earlier in 2020.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The District’s Calendar Committee is recommending returning to a post-Labor Day start date for the 2019-20 school year, as well as bringing back a weeklong spring break. The Board of Education’s Student Achievement and Support Committee reviewed the recommendations at its meeting on Thursday.

This year, the District began school before Labor Day for the first time. Superintendent William Hite said the change was made so that schools could hit the ground running by starting with a full week of classes. But that goal was thwarted by the weather, as severe heat forced five unplanned half-days off during the first two weeks. And the situation drew attention to another environmental problem in many of the District’s aging buildings: lack of air conditioning.

A 30-member Calendar Committee made up of union leaders, parents, students, and community members met last month to review data from a District survey that asked for feedback on school start dates, holidays, spring break, and half-days. Spring break for this school year in April consists of the Thursday, Friday and the following Monday around Easter (April 18-22).

The recommendations span the next two academic years. They are:

2019-20 School Year

  • First day of school – Sept. 3 (the day after Labor Day)
  • Few interruptions in September
  • Eight days for winter break
  • One week for spring break
  • Presidents’ Day off
  • Eid al-Fitr falls on Memorial Day 2020
  • Last day of school – June 12

2020-21 School Year

  • First day of school – Aug. 31 (Labor Day is Sept. 7)
  • Rosh Hashanah is a Saturday
  • Two weeks for winter break
  • One week for spring break
  • Presidents’ Day off
  • Eid al-Fitr is in May and is a holiday
  • Last day of school – June 14

District spokesman Lee Whack responded by email after the committee meeting: “Over recent weeks the School District convened a calendar committee, which has met and considered survey results of more than 6,000 respondents. We are grateful that a diverse group of stakeholders came together to inform our recommendations for future school calendars.”

The full school board is expected to discuss the calendar at its Dec. 13 meeting, and the new calendar is expected to be finalized by the end of December.

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