HCPS schools shorten school day beginning Oct. 4


Photo courtesy of Melissa Hensley

Official announcement sent to student’s emails about the schedule change.

Riley Thompson , Print Editor in Chief

Beginning Oct. 4, [the school day is] going to [be] shortened by an hour. That hour is [going to be taken] off of the afternoon. The school day is going to end at 1:40 p.m. [instead of 2:35 p.m.],” Hensley said.
The shortage of substitute teachers has been the main cause for the schedule change.
We are having a very difficult time finding coverage for classes right now,” Hensley said. “Teachers are having to cover [other] blocks during their planning block [which leads to them having] no opportunity to do their planning, grading, [etc.] during the work day.”

Now that the school day will end earlier, teachers will be able to have a planning block after school in addition to a student support block during the day.

“We needed to make a change so that our teachers are at their very best for students. Teacher’s planning will now be at the end of the day, from 1:40 [p.m.] to 3:00 [p.m.]. [The student support block will be dedicated to] helping those students who are being quarantined by having teachers available during the day to help them out,” Hensley said. “The two biggest factors are student support which is the biggest piece of it and supporting our teachers, so they can be at their best.” 

The schedule change isn’t expected to last all year. In the winter it will be reviewed by the school board and a decision will be made according to whether or not it should continue.
The schedule change is set to go through Dec. 17. At which point it will be reevaluated by the superintendent and the school board to decide where we are and if things are improving overall,” Hensley said. “The class periods are going to end up between 63 and 65 minutes, so we are losing about ten minutes per class. This helps by providing more support for students and staff.”

Due to the shortened day, there will no longer be a D lunch block. Instead, three lengthened lunch blocks will take place. Students should see the new lunch schedule to find out if their lunch block has changed.
We are going to reduce the lunches by one shift, so we are going to go to three lunch shifts, beginning at 10:52 [a.m.] and running through 12:28 [p.m.],” Hensley said. “The number of students in the lunches [are going to increase], but we lengthened the lunches a little bit to make sure everybody has enough time to get through the lines, get their lunch and actually sit down and eat before they need to go on to class.”

After school activities will be adjusted to the new schedule change as well.
“We will run all afternoon activities at the new [end] time, but immediately after school,” Hensley said. 

This new schedule change isn’t just to assist students, but it’s aimed to lessen the load on teachers.
It’s definitely going to relieve the pressure of teaching four blocks in a day and teachers are going to get their time to plan. It’s important because it will help them be on their A game every day in class by not being worn out. Nobody does their best when they’re burning both ends of the candle all the time,” Hensley said. 

During online school, teachers had opportunities to collaborate and adapt their teaching on the Wednesday’s students had off. This schedule change is going to give them that time again. 

“One thing I’m really excited about is it’s going to give us an opportunity for teachers to go back to Professional Learning Community (PLC) work in school. It’s really huge in terms of teachers being able to sit down and look at common assessments that they’ve given to students, break those down and then redesign instruction,” Hensley said.