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Harrisonburg school board extends Exigency Plan, 1-hour shortened school day for remainder of school year

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 10:05 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) extended its Exigency Plan, which will shorten the school day by one hour for the rest of the academic year.

The school board unanimously agreed to continue on this path, after temporarily adopting it in October, in hopes of helping teachers and ultimately keeping students in school.

School leaders mentioned teachers feeling burnt out, having to use their planning time to cover classrooms while other teachers were out sick, leaving them without enough time to plan accordingly during the workday.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards said even with 146 one-hour shortened school days, students will still meet the 990-hour/180-day requirement.

If circumstances, like inclement weather, were to happen, the division has several days in mind to use as make-up days: Jan. 19 (teacher workday), Feb. 11 (PD Day), April 1 (teacher workday), April 15 and April 18 (division holiday), May 3 (division holiday), June 8 and June 9 (change early release to full), or June 10 (teacher workday).

Other options include Spring Break, extending the school year, adding the hour back if necessary, or adding virtual learning when inclement weather is extended beyond the first 5 snow days.

In addition, preschool will take the last Friday of every month off beginning in January, which will be five days total through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

Richards said that before implementing this plan back in October, city schools were having to deal with students’ behavioral issues.

“The behavior issues were rising rapidly and at the same time, teachers were taking time off as they needed to, but there’s been a noticeable difference in the number of discipline cases since we put this plan in place,” he said.

As the plan progresses, the school division will be adding more school-based programming, as well as exploring additional sub-contractor options for before and after-school programming.

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