Students to make up 4 days in December

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After several members reconsidered their votes, the Beaufort County board of education changed course and decided to make up four of the eight instructional days lost to Hurricane Matthew by shortening winter break rather than by extending the first semester into January, according to a district release.

Full instructional days will now be held Monday, Dec. 19, through Wednesday, Dec. 21, with all schools operating on normal schedules.

Students will have a half-day on Thursday, Dec. 22, which will be the final day before winter break.

Students will return from winter break on Jan. 4.

Seven of the 10 board members participating in the meeting voted to make up four days in December, which was the option favored by school principals, by school district employees and district parents in a pair of online surveys, and by two advisory groups of high school students.

Board members who changed their votes said they were increasingly concerned about extending the first semester into mid-January, which would have created problems for high school students taking important end-of-course exams after winter break, seniors who planned to graduate early and begin college in early January, and high school students who planned to begin taking dual-credit college-level courses in early January.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said that school principals would work with parents and employees whose families have travel plans or schedule commitments for Dec. 19-22.

“We certainly understand the complications that may arise from this change, and any parents or employees with scheduling problems should contact their principals immediately,” Moss said.  “Our schools will be as flexible as they possibly can.”

South Carolina regulations covering minimum instructional time meant that the district had to find a way to restore a minimum of four days to the first semester so that high school students could meet their course requirements.

A total of eight school days were lost during Hurricane Matthew.  The board had already approved a waiver for three days, and the district expects to receive permission from the state board of education to waive up to three additional days.

With the board’s vote, key dates on the school year calendar now include:

• Nov. 23: Teacher workday, no school
• Dec. 15: High school end-of-course testing begins
• Dec. 22: Last day of classes (half day) before winter break; first semester ends
• Jan. 3: Teacher work day
• Jan. 4: Students return from winter break; second semester begins
• March 15: Third quarter ends
• May 26: Last day of school (half-day)
• May 26-June 3: High school graduation ceremonies:  May 26 for Whale Branch Early College High; May 30 for Hilton Head Island High; May 31 for Bluffton High; June 1 for Battery Creek High; June 2 for Beaufort High; and June 3 for May River High.