On November 18th, 2021, the Prince George’s County Board of Education approved changes to the already existing 2021-2022 school calendar. The change came just before Thanksgiving break, affecting several upcoming dates including one date before winter break, and multiple dates after the new year.
In terms of the new calendar, the changes are only limited to the implementation of three hour early dismissals—contrary to the typical two hour early dismissals. Four three hour early dismissals were added to otherwise regular scheduled school days, and one day off of school for students (three hour early dismissal for all school-based employees) was added to replace an already existing two hour delayed opening for students on February 22, 2022. The upcoming dates with new three hour early dismissals include December 23, 2021, January 21, 2022, March 4, 2022, and May 13, 2022.
Many teachers and students were beginning to feel overwhelmed by their current workloads, as it was starting to affect their motivation. Alvaro Ceron-Ruiz, the current Student Member of the Board (Prince George’s County Board of Education), and junior at ERHS, was able to weigh in, stating that he spoke to Dr. Goldson on this issue. He explained that many teachers and students were in favor of the extra time off, specifically the teachers, with many of whom previously needing to take time off to catch up on grading, as well as adequate time for planning. He says “Luckily Dr. Goldson and her administration were able to come up with a certain amount of dates—one per month—that would allow us to stay on board with the hours we are supposed to be in school while also adding the support.”
Alvaro expressed his gratitude for the changes to the calendar, however he acknowledges that “it’s not the best solution to overcome the workload that we have, but it’s a start.” He added, “I was very happy to cast my vote in favor.”
Voices from two of the most prominent teacher unions were also heard right outside the building in which the Prince George’s County board members were meeting inside to vote on the calendar updates; these groups included PGCEA and AFSCME. Some of the protesters were able to come into the meeting to testify in regards to teacher workloads and the assurance that proper steps would be taken. Alvaro explained that testifying is “allowing the public to comment, and as board members we won’t respond.”
Thanks to the changes in the calendar, students, teachers, and staff were all able to reap the benefits of additional time off, and it will be interesting to see if the calendars for coming years reflect these same values.
Here’s the link to the updated calendar: https://www.pgcps.org/globalassets/featured-pages/about-pgcps/docs—about-pgcps/2021-2022-school-year-calendar.pdf