Students in the Sherman Independent School District may be enjoying three weeks of Christmas break this upcoming school year. Sherman ISD released a proposed school calendar this week for the 2020-2021 school year that will include additional time off for students during the winter break between semesters.

In February, the district announced that heavy rains have delayed the construction of the new Sherman High School to the point it would not be opening on time for the beginning of the 2020 school year. Instead, the district now plans to transition into the new school between semesters in January 2021.

“As the 2020-2021 school year approaches, our Sherman ISD calendar committee took many things into consideration while planning the new proposed academic calendar,” Sherman ISD said in an announcement video on the district website.

Under the proposed calendar, students will return to school on Aug. 17, breaking a tradition of opening mid week for the first week of school. District officials said, this decision was made to help balance the two semesters, maintain traditional holidays and end the year before Memorial Day.

“During this year's calendar planning process, we were focused on ensuring that our academic calendar addressed the needs of our students for instructional days, provided staff with professional development days, and accommodated a mid-year move into our new Sherman High School,” SISD Communications Director Kimberly Simpson. “With all of the moving pieces of our district, we believe that our proposed academic calendar addresses the needs of our district while honoring the specific feedback from our committee members and parent survey.”

As a new feature to the school calendar, students will have Oct. 12 off as a staff development day. The day was made available upon request by staff during the process of drafting the calendar.

“During the calendar committee meetings, it was determined that teachers and staff were in favor of including a fall break for students prior to ending the first quarter,” Simpson said. “The committee also concluded that day would provide our educators with a small break and the opportunity for families to participate in the State Fair of Texas.”

Students will start the Christmas break on Dec. 18 and will report back to classes starting on Jan. 11, 2021. This additional week will give staff time to finish the final steps in transitioning to and opening the new high school.

In the lead up to the school opening, Simpson said the district will allow students the opportunity to get acquainted to the new school but these dates and details will be announced closer to the opening date.

Students could see another extended break in March when the district lets out for the annual spring break starting on March 8. In addition to having the full week off, the following Monday and Tuesday are scheduled as staff development days and will be holidays for students.

Simpson said the district has included two bad-weather make up days in the calendar, but said there are not two days directly designated as such.

“School districts across the nation have moved away from designating actual days as bad weather days on an academic calendar,” she said. “Our district includes two banked days in our calendar planning so that if we had to cancel school, we would have the flexibility to determine when those extra days could be made up.”

District officials noted that these plans are tentative and the finalized form will need to sync up with statewide calendars and plans. The district still needs to make a decision on proposed plans to stagger start times for district campuses in coming months.

The calendar is expected to be presented to the school board for consideration in late March.