Catholic schools extend Thanksgiving break to a full week

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Catholic schools in the Diocese of Nashville will extend their Thanksgiving break, providing time to do an extensive cleaning of their buildings and giving their teachers more time for planning.

The Catholic Schools Office has given the 16 diocesan schools the authority to modify their calendar to take off the whole week of Thanksgiving, Superintendent of Schools Rebecca Hammel said. All the schools have decided to take the extra time off, she added.

The schools were originally scheduled to be off Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 25-27, for Thanksgiving. They now will also take off Monday and Tuesday of that week and will return on Monday, Nov. 30. 

“Schools have what are considered ‘stockpiled’ days in the state of Tennessee. These are granted since our schools have a longer school day” than required by the state, Hammel said. “The additional two days for Thanksgiving will be counted as stockpiled days.” The stockpiled days are typically used for snow days and other unforeseen circumstances.

The extended break will have several benefits, Hammel said. It will allow schools time to do an extensive cleaning; it will provide nine days, counting the weekends before and after Thanksgiving, where students will not be gathering; and it will provide teachers more planning time as they near the end of the semester, she said.

“So much of teachers’ planning time has been affected, we’re trying to give that back to them,” Hammel said.

The suggestion to close the extra two days first came from a principal concerned about the lost planning time for teachers, Hammel said. 

“We opened it up to conversation with all of the principals then,” she said. “It was also noted it would be an opportunity to really clean the buildings.”

The extended break is almost equal to the time required for a person exposed to the virus to be quarantined, Hammel noted.

Tennessee, like most of the rest of the country, is in the midst of a surge in the number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus. “We hope families will be very mindful of whatever activities they choose to do over the break” to avoid exposure to the virus, she said.

The calendar for the rest of the school year is unchanged, Hammel said. Christmas break will be Dec. 18 to Jan. 3, spring break will be March 15-19, and the school year will end in May.

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