Peoria Public Schools considering balanced calendar again to help with learning loss

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Public School board is considering a balanced calendar to address learning loss due to the pandemic and accelerate learning going forward.

During its board meeting Monday night, board members watched a presentation by Dr. Sandra Wilson, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction, on how the district attempted a balanced calendar two years ago and how they would try it again for the 2021-2022 school year.

Wilson said the idea wasn’t feasible in 2017 because some schools didn’t have air-conditioning available.

“It was really determined that a balanced calendar would option should be revisited with the start date that aligned with all school buildings having air-conditioning,” Wilson said.

She said all buildings are expected to be fully air-conditioning by August of 2021.

Wilson presented a model example of what a balanced calendar year would look like:

  • 45 days of learning,
  • 15 days off for Fall Break,
  • 30 days of learning,
  • 3 days off for Thanksgiving Break,
  • 15 days of learning,
  • 15 days off for Winter Break
  • 45 days of learning
  • 15 days off for Spring Break
  • 45 days of learning
  • 30 days off for Summer Break

“There is more balance between the days that the students learn and the breaks in between and the summer break is smaller,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the next step, after presenting the idea to the school board, would be contacting people to become committee members and people for impact groups to develop pros, cons, and considerations for balance calendar topics.

She said these groups will be composed of various stakeholders, the Board of Education, community members, parents, students, building and district administration.

Wilson said it’s still not feasible to implement a fully balanced calendar for the 2021-2022 school year because the earliest they could do it would be next August. She said if this moves forward, they would have to try a modified version next year and a full balance calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.

Doug Shaw, School board president, said this is all still in its planning stages.

“Nothing in stone,” Shaw said. “This is just a proposal at this point, and there will be plenty of time for families and the entire Peoria public schools community to give feedback before we move forward with anything. In fact, the proposed vote on anything would be in April, so we’re far away from that right now.”

The school board also approved its BinaxNOW antigen testing plan to provide rapid COVID-19 testing to symptomatic students and the consent forms that will be sent out to parents.

Thomas Bruch, the district’s spokesman, said if parents decline to sign the consent forms the school will not administer the tests to those students and if they show symptoms they will have to quarantine for 10 days.

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