Orange County Schools (OCS) will close for students on May 16th. The day will be an optional teacher workday. Currently, the number of OCS teachers that have requested leave for May 16th exceeds the number of substitute teachers that the district has in its substitute pool.
More than 40% of OCS teachers have already taken leave for May 16th. Without proper staffing in the schools, serious and real concerns for student safety will exist.
OCS supports its students and teachers. The first priority the district has is to keep our students safe. Without the proper staff, the district cannot fulfill that obligation. Though the district had not planned to close school on May 16th, the reality and consequences of not having enough teaching staff that day required a change to the calendar. For some families, this change in the calendar will be overly burdensome. But, not being able to operate schools safely would violate our promise to our families to keep our students safe.
We hear the voices of our teachers, and OCS supports teachers. Our district has one of the highest local supplements in the state for teacher pay, and our benefits package rivals any district in the state. At a time when conditions for the teaching profession have become more difficult, we understand the call from all over the state to strengthen the teaching profession so that the best and brightest can be retained and recruited to take on the awesome responsibility of serving our state’s most valuable resource: our children.
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Will my child have to make-up that day?
No. Although the day is being converted to an optional teacher workday, the day will not have to be made-up by students, given that the OCS calendar provides far more classroom time than the state requires.
What about testing or other school activities that day?
Testing information and particular school event information will be handled by each school. Your child’s principal will be able to give you specific information about a test or school event.
What will staff, other than teachers, be doing that day?
Support staff (such as Child Nutrition, Custodians, Bus Drivers) will be completing training and doing professional development. Other staff will continue to work on their normal job duties.
Some children do not eat unless they are at school. What about them?
The district is researching the options for being able to provide meals for students the day before the teacher workday so that children who need food that they would normally get at school will be able to have that food.