Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will be closed Nov. 12 to give staff and students a break from a stressful school year.
School boards across the state have been calling off school for that day, which falls the day after Veteran’s Day, giving students and staff a four-day weekend.
Superintendent Tricia McManus told the school board Thursday that students, staff members and parents have told her that this has been a difficult year of readjustment.
In making the recommendation to the school board, McManus said she talked to principals, officials from other large school districts, parent-teacher organizations and the Forsyth County Association of Educators about taking a break.
Some school districts are calling it a mental health or wellness day for students and staff who have been challenged this year from the lingering impact of the pandemic. The pandemic has disrupted the past two school years, leading to academic and behavioral challenges. Some students returned to the classroom in August for the first since March 2019.
The school district is calling Nov. 12 a day of “kindness, community and connection” and is asking staff and students to connect with or serve others through an act of kindness or to spend the day taking care of themselves.
“We want our folks to recharge because our children deserve us to be at our very best,” McManus said. “If folks are tired or down or angry, you don’t bring your best. This kindness day allows people to stop and do whatever it takes, and we come back recharged that next week.”
The school district will pay for childcare at some organizations, including the YMCA, Imprints Cares and recreation centers, McManus said. It will also send home meals with children to cover Nov. 11-12.
Schools across the country are facing staff shortages, more disruptive behavior from students and COVID-related issues such as quarantines and masking mandates.
In the local school district, the first quarter was marked by the fatal shooting of a student at Mount Tabor High School, guns confiscated on several campuses, fights, a threatened bus driver strike, staff shortages in most departments and COVID-19 clusters at some schools. Teachers also are struggling to find time to complete state-mandated training, said Val Young, the president of the educators association.
“Everyone needs a day to recharge and come back re-energized,” Young said. “Doing an act of kindness will be good for our hearts.”
The school board unanimously passed the change to the calendar. School spokesman Brent Campbell said the school district has enough hours built into the calendar to meet the state requirement of 1,025 instructional hours.