Chatham County Schools makes Nov. 12 a day of reflection for students, staff

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PITTSBORO — Chatham County Schools will give students Nov. 12 off “in response to the ongoing strenuous impact of the pandemic on students, families and staff,” the district’s board of education decided at a specially called meeting Monday.

Instead of a regular instructional day, Nov. 12 will now be one “of reflection” for students and staff, with schools closed to students and staff working remotely “for the purposes of restorative reflection,” the district said.

“As we continue through the school year, it's clear that COVID has changed everything we thought we knew about schools and school operation, and especially this notion we call normal,” Superintendent Anthony Jackson said at Monday’s meeting. “We are finding that the social and emotional needs of both students and staff remain a primary concern for all… Our students and staff are carrying heavy loads.”

Jackson also acknowledged the loss of a Northwood High School student, Bryan Vilchis, who died in a car accident on Saturday night. In an email sent to parents, obtained by the News + Record, the school said social workers and counselors would be on-site to offer support to students and staff members on Monday. Jackson was at Northwood prior to the board meeting.

Last week, Wake County Schools canceled classes on Nov. 12, extending the Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday break by a day. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools also said it would give students the entire week of Thanksgiving off to support the mental health and wellness of its students and staff.

Following reports of the Wake County Schools calendar change, some parents on social media voiced concern for how school calendar revisions impact the childcare plans for families.

At Monday’s meeting, Jackson said community partners such as the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club would provide options for parents in need of support on Nov. 12.  Details regarding such options will be finalized and then communicated soon, Jackson said.

“It was stated to me when I arrived here that we are family,” Jackson said. “And if in fact we are family — families look out for one another.

The district is utilizing hours in the school calendar that exceed the 1,025 instructional hours required by the state to make the calendar revision.

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