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Academic Calendar Survey Results

JP Schools Family,

We wanted to make sure we took the feedback we’ve received over the last few days regarding our academic calendar into consideration. As promised, we wanted to share the new calendar today to allow our stakeholders time to plan for implementation. With over 14,883 respondents, 54% voted for a revised academic calendar that increases the instructional school day and employee work day by 30 minutes for 71 days, beginning November 16, 2020 - March 26, 2021. This option makes-up Hurricane Zeta days, gives back November 23 and 24 for the Thanksgiving holiday, and gives back February 18 and 19 for Mardi Gras break if no additional closures occur for inclement weather days. We will be updating this page with the amended calendar tomorrow.

We also wanted to send you some additional context about the academic calendar. We are the largest system in the state with a very diverse population. In that regard, every decision we make has to keep all stakeholders in mind. In relation to our school system having to make up three days from the recent storm, we wanted to ensure that our top priority of educating our students remains at the forefront of our decision making. With this in mind, the following perspectives were also considered:

  1. As of this time, the Louisiana Department of Education has not waived instructional minutes. As a result, we have to add this time back to our academic calendar.
  2. Although the state has waived testing in relation to promotional standards, our schools and the district will still be measured on how students perform on end of course and end of year assessments.
  3. Our high schools are on block scheduling. As a result, the school year for their current courses ends at the conclusion of this semester. High school students, especially seniors, are currently enrolled in courses where they will take the LEAP 2025 assessment in the next 32 days. Their ability to be successful is tied to their ability to get as much instructional time as possible.
  4. We wanted to present all options to the calendar committee and go through our established process. This allows our committee members to have a true voice in the decision making and then present their recommendation to all stakeholders for input. We also wanted to ensure that we provided these options to our stakeholders as quickly as possible so they could plan for implementation of the new academic calendar.

Though it sounds simple enough, we cannot simply just add days to the end of the school year. We have to consider a balanced calendar for each semester, testing windows, and meeting state guidelines for various student populations.

We have a calendar committee that represents all stakeholder groups. The committee consists of nine teachers, five parents, ten central office staff, five principals, five assistant principals, and two JFT members. This established committee and collaborative process allows us to receive feedback from all groups and ensure multiple perspectives are considered to help determine how to proceed. The calendar committee has convened three times in the past school year: 6/29/2020, 9/8/2020, and 11/6/2020. Additionally, on September 29, JFT conducted a survey of its members, and sixty seven percent favored adding minutes instead of taking student and employee holidays.

During the two calendar committee meetings held on Friday, November 6, the committee overwhelmingly believed the first two days of Thanksgiving break needed to be given back to students and employees after an extensive discussion around mental health and mind breaks. There was also a lengthy discussion on whether or not schools would be able to properly and safely staff campuses November 23 and 24. The committee chair gave an option of keeping the Thanksgiving vacation as it currently stands; however, the committee as a whole did not want this option.

We truly took all things into consideration before a decision was made. We will continue to do our best to support everyone, even if we cannot satisfy everyone. We hope this insight into our decision-making helps you to understand that there was a process that included all stakeholder groups, and these options resulted from their hard word. Thank you for your continuous support and understanding.

Jefferson Parish Schools