Two Richmond Elementary Schools Add 20 Days to School Year to Tackle Post-Pandemic Learning Challenges

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

By Amie Knowles

July 21, 2023

Two Richmond elementary schools will start classes on Monday, July 24, as part of a pilot program to add 20 days to the school year.

While the majority of Virginia school divisions are still rocking out to the 1972 Alice Cooper hit “School’s Out,” two Richmond elementary schools are ringing the bell earlier than usual. 

The initiative is part of a Richmond Public Schools (RPS) pilot program, RPS200. The program will add 20 extra days to the school year calendar in an effort to combat summer learning loss. The change will raise the in-classroom experience from 180 to 200 days.

“Coming out of the pandemic, RPS—like school systems across the nation—experienced significant declines in student achievement. While additional tutoring and after-school support can be helpful, these interventions will likely not be sufficient,” a portion of a document about RPS200 released by RPS read. “[R]esearch has demonstrated that additional instructional time can have a positive impact on student outcomes.”

Both Fairfield Court Elementary School and Cardinal Elementary School will start classes on Monday, July 24. The change will impact an estimated 1,100 students and more than 60 teachers, according to data obtained from Public School Review

For faculty and staff, the schedule alteration comes with a bump in pay:

  • Principals and assistant principals will receive $15,000 bonuses
  • Teachers and staff with contracts will receive a $10,000 bonus, along with an amended 11-month contract
  • There’s also the possibility for an additional $5,000 staff bonus, as long as student outcome goals are met

Besides the start date, the two schools in the pilot program will have the same schedule as all other RPS locations, including holidays, scheduled breaks, and the school year end date.

“Each RPS200 school would have autonomy on how to use the additional instructional time. For example, schools could use the time to simply stretch out pacing, or they could embed enrichment and intervention weeks throughout the year,” a portion of the RPS200 document read. “‘Out of the box’ innovation would be strongly encouraged.”

Parents and guardians had the option to opt their children into or out of the pilot program, given they provided transportation for accommodations if they requested a school change. 

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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