By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Yukon Public Schools’ 2020-21 school year has been pushed back one week.
The YPS Board of Education, at its July 7 meeting, approved a revised school calendar for the upcoming school year. The first day of class has been moved from Thursday, Aug. 13 to Aug. 20 with virtual school to begin Aug. 26.
The primary reason is the uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, according to YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth.
Several recent days have seen more than 800 new cases statewide, prompting YPS officials to propose the school calendar change.
“We would really like to have some time for this to get better, as much as we possibly can,” Simeroth said, hoping there will be a downward trend in August. “There are only two days that will be affected that we’re going to ‘call back’.”
These are a professional development day in September and election day in November.
“We claimed those two days of instruction back,” Yukon’s school superintendent advised.
The end date of the 2020-21 school year remains May 21, but the revision decreases the number of “extra” days built into the calendar.
Another advantage to delay the start of school one week is that it will provide more time for professional development in virtual learning.
“In case of an event where school does close, we will be much better prepared to facilitate that ongoing learning,” Dr. Simeroth said. “Last year was a crisis situation without any warning.”
Traditional school ended in mid-March due to the pandemic as school districts transitioned to “distance learning” methods for the rest of the 2019-20 school term.
“This year, we are mandated to prepare for that (continuous learning) no matter what the situation is,” Simeroth said. “So, we know that it’s going take some time and some efforts.”
YPS officials want to give teachers more time to learn the new program and begin preparing on-line lessons for students.
YPS patrons and board members viewing Tuesday night’s meeting learned of another reason school will start a week later in August.
Construction of the new Redstone Intermediate School, at Britton and Mustang roads, has been hampered by rain and COVID-19-related delays. The site will house fourth through sixth graders.
“We want to give (the project contractor) another week to get that as open as they can,” Simeroth explained.
If Redstone is not ready to open by the start of the 2020-21 school year, YPS administrators and principals have developed a contingency plan to have the school’s students at Yukon’s former sixth grade center for a limited time.
“That’s just if necessary,” Simeroth noted. “We’re preparing for all those situations as best as we can.”
The Yukon school district will have three intermediate (fourth, fifth and sixth grade) sites – with Lakeview and Independence joining Redstone.
Yukon’s newly revised ’20-’21 school calendar shows 182 days, with 171 days taught, five professional days and four workdays.