Oconee Co. Schools propose modified calendar moving toward year round school

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OCONEE Co., SC (WSPA) – It’s the county known as the “Golden Corner” with beautiful mountains and lakes, there’s endless opportunities for a fun summer vacation from school, but 11 weeks off in the summer can be a long time.

“They do get kind of bored, take a lot of time off and forget a lot of things,” said Jay Winstead who has four children in Oconee Co. School District.
 
The summer slide is one of the reasons Oconee County School District is looking into a modified school calendar for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
 
“And the longer summer is theoretically would mean more they forget, but shortening summer would reduce summer slide and allow less remediation at the beginning of a school year,” said Superintendent Michael Thorsland.
 

If approved by the school board, summer break would shorten to seven weeks. School would begin the end of July allowing the district to be on a more semester based calendar.

“Which in our high schools is a pretty big deal with the increase in dual credit opportunities and things like that makes it a pretty big deal to finish a semester before Christmastime,” Thorsland said.
 
Then there would be two-week breaks after each nine weeks so around October, Christmas and March.
 
“We’re not aware of any other district that has done this for all their schools, but there are some schools in South Carolina that do it,” Thorsland said.
 
When the idea first came up, the district sent home surveys to both parents and faculty asking their opinion.
While only 10 percent of the parents and 50 percent of the staff responded,Thorsland tells 7News there is about a 10 percent advantage for those in favor. But the parents we talked to have some concerns.
 
“Like if you have children in day care you have to pay for care all year round not just summer care. Also my kids go to church camp. It would be right in the middle of the process of going to church camp so they’d have to change the dates and times for camp,” Winstead said.
 
But right now there is a prefiled bill in the legislature that would remove the law stating all schools in the state can’t start before the third Monday of August which could change Oconee County’s plans altogether.
 
Thorsland said this idea of shortening summer vacation was first brought up about a decade ago, but was ultimately dropped after getting pushback particularly from sports coaches who wanted time for summer practice sessions.

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