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The Worcester County Public Schools 2021-22 calendar was altered slightly this week to change Dec. 17 to a half day of in-person instruction, make Dec. 20, 21 and 22 distance learning days, and add two half days on March 11 and May 16.

In the name of improving the mental health of students, teachers and staff still seemingly ravaged by the lingering effects of the pandemic, Worcester County Public Schools officials have tweaked the school calendar to offer some relief.

This week, board of education members unanimously voted to change Dec. 17 to a half-day of in-person instruction, make Dec. 20, 21 and 22 distance-learning days, and add two half-days on March 11 and May 16.

The move will presumably help to soften the blow of going to school and work for full days on the specified dates. It also essentially gives students and staff members two full weeks away from classrooms for Christmas break.

“In light of the impact the pandemic and the associated sustained trauma students and educators nationwide have experienced as a result of covid-19, school systems across the country are examining ways to provide mental health supports for both students and staff,” the board document said.

“Worcester County Public Schools, alongside our neighboring counties, has examined our existing 2021-2022 school system calendar to identify a strategy to build in time to provide this support.”

Carrie Sterrs, the coordinator of public relations and special programs for WCPS, also presented board members with two options for the 2022-23 calendar. One would institute an early June dismissal date and the other a later one. Board members will take the options under advisement and vote on them at a later date.

This story appears in the print edition of the OC Today on Nov. 19.

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