As we develop each year’s school calendar, we work within guidelines shaped by state law, district policy, employee contracts and established practices. The compliance considerations that impact school calendar development include:
- Students must attend school for 180 instructional days.
- School must start after Labor Day (Code of Virginia, §22.1-79).
- There is no school for students on Election Day.
- There is a 4-hour minimum attendance requirement for students on early release days.
Additional considerations that impact the school calendar are:
- Instructional days should be evenly distributed in each quarter and semester.
- There is a need for alignment with the Regional Calendar (Winter Break, Spring Break).
- Holidays observed on the school calendar include: Thanksgiving Day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
- A minimum of 5 professional development days distributed between division and school-based professional development are scheduled in alignment with the division’s strategic plan and to promote professional and organizational growth.
- A minimum of 5 days are scheduled as teacher work days for preparation and reporting.
- Early release days are set aside as time for parent-teacher conferences and for administration of examinations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Developing the WJCC calendar is a lengthy and thoughtful process that takes several months to finalize. During the development process, input is requested from staff and parents prior to consideration and approval by the School Board.
When developing a school calendar is there a minimum number of teaching days that local school divisions are required to offer its students?
Yes. In accordance with state law, Section 22.1-98 of the Code of Virginia, the length of every school’s calendar, in all school divisions, shall be at least 180 teaching days or 990 teaching hours in any school year.
Is there a possibility of starting school prior to Labor Day, thus allowing more flexibility to the school calendar?
In accordance with state law, Section 22.1 79.1 of the Code of Virginia, public schools are prohibited from starting school prior to Labor Day. The Virginia Board of Education only makes exceptions to this in cases where a school division has been closed an average of eight days per year during any five of the last 10 years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures or other emergencies.
What is the timeline for the development of a school calendar?
The school calendar for the next school year is typically developed and approved 6 months in advance for planning purposes for staff, students and parents. In addition, a draft calendar for the next school year is created. From August through January the steps involved in this process include: 1) Review calendar to identify holidays that will impact the school year calendar; 2) Verify new legislation in the General Assembly that may impact the school calendar; 3) Solicit input from stakeholders on calendar development; 4) Establish a division calendar committee to provide input on the draft calendar; and 4) Present the draft calendar recommended by the WJCC Calendar Committee to the Superintendent and subsequently, to the School Board for review and adoption.
Who serves on the Calendar Committee?
The Calendar Committee is comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators and central office administrators, with classroom teachers having the largest representation on the committee.
What plans are in place for making up days due to inclement weather?
Each year several days are designated on the calendar as potential make-up days due to inclement weather. These dates are determined through the calendar development process and are approved by the School Board annually.
The length of days for the Winter Holidays varies from year to year. What is the reason for this?
When Labor Day occurs later in the month of September, there are fewer days between Labor Day and high school graduation ceremony dates. Because of this, the Winter Holiday is typically shorter. However, when Labor Day falls on the first few days of September, it is possible that the Winter Holiday could be longer. Not only does this impact the Winter Holiday, but when Labor Day falls earlier in the month, more options are available when developing the school calendar.
If a single-day holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, will schools be closed on a subsequent weekday as a holiday for students and staff?
Not necessarily. This will vary from year to year based on the observed date of a particular holiday and the flexibility of the school-year calendar.
Why does Spring Break not coincide with the Easter holiday?
WJCC Spring Break is the first full week of April and aligns with the calendars of other school divisions in the area. This week is designated as Spring Break to provide consistency from year to year for planning purposes and to allow appropriate instructional time to prepare for spring standardized tests. In years where Easter does not coincide with Spring Break, when possible the Monday following Easter is designated as a holiday.
Why is it important to align WJCC calendar with the calendars of neighboring school divisions?
WJCC shares important programs with neighboring school divisions. These programs include New Horizons career and technical education, the Governor’s School, the School for Autism, and other regional programs.