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Bryan ISD board approves calendar revision for new year

The revised academic calendar includes a new first day of school date and several early release dates throughout the year.

BRYAN, Texas — Bryan ISD is bringing its students back to campus and beginning online learning three days later than previously intended. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved a revision to the 2020-2021 academic calendar Monday afternoon.

Students will now begin the fall semester on Aug. 20. The previous calendar had the first day of school as Aug. 17. 

According to Dr. Brian Merrell, the executive director of school leadership, the purpose of a later start date is to increase staff development and preparation for a year like no other before. Teachers will be able to practice safety measures for student’s return back to campus, as well as being able to finalize what online learning will look like. 

“They can be on the campus to learn the policies, procedures and practices with their campus specifically," said Merrell. "They can get with their campus leadership and really hone in on that.”

The revised calendar also incorporates several early release days throughout each month. The early release days fall on Wednesdays, and Merrell said this will help with sanitizing the schools even more and giving teachers more preparation for instruction each week. 

“A deep-clean Wednesday is pretty strong," Merrell said. "To be able to say midweek we’re going to stop what we’re doing, kids are going to go home, and clean the building even more thoroughly [than] we’ve done. To be able to put that in place I think is pretty powerful.”

High school students will be released at 12:50 p.m, middle school will be released at 12:55 p.m., intermediate school at 2:20 p.m, and elementary school at 2:10 p.m.

There will be no early release days on weeks that have holidays, and high school and middle school students will get out of school earlier than intermediate and elementary school students to help with child care options.

“If [older students] have younger brothers or sisters they can go by and pick them up or they can be at home when they get home," said Mark McCall, the president of the Bryan ISD Board of Trustees.

The purpose of starting the school year on a Thursday is to have teachers and staff have more conversations with students on how they plan on getting home on early release dates.

Another topic discussed during Monday’s meeting was putting the high schools and middle schools on a block schedule for the new year. Block scheduling would remove the eight, 45 minute daily classes and replace it with four, longer class periods. It would allow students to stay in one space longer and lessen travel throughout hallways and community spaces.

More details on how the classes will operate are still being discussed, and the district administration will need to meet with school principals and counselors. 

Administration from Bryan Collegiate High School also met with the board to approve revisions to its calendars and ways they will learn for fall. Bryan Collegiate High School will now offer a hybrid waiver that will move all instruction online on Fridays, due to approval by the board. The administration believes this will give teachers more opportunities to work with students that are learning virtually. The Board also approved Bryan Collegiate High School to start school on Aug. 20 and they have no early release days scheduled. 

The Board of Trustees adopted an amended and restated order calling a board election to be held by Bryan ISD.