Johnston County public school students will have a full week to enjoy their Thanksgiving Holiday along with an additional day out of school for Veterans Day following a calendar change approved by the Johnston County Public School Board.
During a special-called virtual session meeting Wednesday afternoon, the school board voted 7-to-0 to approve Wellness Day and Wellness Week recommendations after being given their options by Brian Vetrano, Chief of Human Resources.
The board approved Friday, November 12th as a Wellness Day for students and staff. (Thursday, Nov. 11th, Veterans Day, was an existing holiday already built into the school calendar.)
For the week of Thanksgiving, the board added Monday, November 22nd as an optional teacher workday and student holiday. Tuesday, November 23rd was also added as an additional Wellness Day for students and staff.
Previously, Wednesday, Nov. 24th through Friday, November 26th was approved for the Thanksgiving Holiday. By adding Nov. 22nd and Nov. 23rd as student holidays, they will not have to attend classes the entire week of Thanksgiving. School board member Kay Carroll called this a “Wellness Week”.
Mr. Carroll made a motion for a Wellness Day (Nov. 12th) and Wellness Week (Nov. 22 & 23) added to the school calendar. Vice Chair Terri Sessoms seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved.
Vetrano said the Wellness break would give teachers time to re-boost. “Teachers are picking up additional classes and taking on additional responsibilities due to the high number of vacancies.”
Vetrano said June 9th and 10th would now become optional teacher workdays at the end of the school year.
Board member Lyn Andrews said, “When we don’t have school parents miss work. I am trying to be mindful of that. My only problem with (Nov. 12th) and Thanksgiving Week, we are reducing the nine weeks down considerably.”
Carroll responded, “I appreciate the issue of child care and academics, but you get to a point sometimes that keeping your nose to the grindstone gets less productive.”
Dr. Bracy reminded the board that First Semester exams will begin on December 13th.
“We’re only in school 13 days in December. So really, high school students will have, after Thanksgiving, about 10 days to get ready…” Andrews stated.
“I truly believe all our staff need these Wellness Days,” Sessoms said. “We have people right now doing double duty. I want to make sure they are all paid.”
Carroll said he also wanted to make sure employees are compensated.
Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy said he would determine the cost to pay bus drivers and child nutrition workers, so they do not lose any money when schools are closed for the Wellness breaks. Dr. Bracy said he will report back at a future meeting on the cost to pay staff and a funding source.
With the calendar changes approved today, November 12th will now be a Wellness Day with no classes for students or staff. November 22nd will now be a student holiday and optional teacher workday. November 22nd will be a Wellness Day with no classes for students or staff.
Face Mask Policy
Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Carroll said he was hopeful the school board would reconsider the mask mandate policy in November if the downward trend of COVID-19 cases continues. Carroll said the board may consider “mask removal” if the number of cases continues to decline. Previously, the board voted 4-to-3 to require face masks for students and staff.