2020-2021 Calendar Options

Do we start school next year on August 3rd or August 10th? If we start on August 10th, it is tough to have a balanced calendar unless we take away days from Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break.

I’m also getting good feedback on Early Release Days. A number of people have suggested early release days during finals.

Look at the calendar options and what the other Metro Atlanta school districts are doing. Let me know your thoughts about the Start Date, Balanced Calendar and Early Release days.

Comment below or join one of these discussions: Facebook – Calendar Update or Facebook – Calendar Options.

  2020-2021 Calendar Option A
  2020-2021 Calendar Option B

The DeKalb County School District’s Calendar Committee is exploring calendar options to align with other similarly sized districts in close geographic proximity. Both calendars include the following attributes:
• 180 days of instruction for students
• 190 teacher days including one evening workday comprised of parent-teacher conferences (2 per semester)
• 5 teacher workdays before the first day of school
• Holidays for all – Labor Day, Martin L. King, Jr. Day, and President’s Day
• Thanksgiving Break – one week in November
• Spring Break – one week coinciding with most metro area districts
• Last day of school for students before Memorial Day

The Major Differences in the proposed calendar options for both years are as follows:

Option A:
Students begin the school year on the second Monday of August.
There is a 3-day fall mini break and a 1-day break in February.
There are 85 instructional days first semester and 95 instructional days second semester.

Option B:
Students begin the school year on the first Monday in August.
There is a 3-day fall mini break and a 2-day break in February.
There are 90 instructional days both semesters.

*Note From The Administration: “There are several possibilities for the fall mini break and February mini break, so the committee members will consider the testing schedules and feedback from stakeholders to make the final recommendations.”


  Comparison – All Metro Area Calendars

Atlanta Metro Area Calendars

Atlanta Metro Area Calendars


DeKalb Schools Calendar Update (October 18, 2019)
2018-2020  Calendars
2019-2020 Calendar
2018-2019 Calendar
2017-2018  Calendar
2016-2017  Calendar
2015-2016  Calendar

58 responses to “2020-2021 Calendar Options

  1. Definitely later start. Early release days seem to be a struggle for both teachers and parents.

    Shortened class times turns into homework, video or worksheet time. I am explaining from a parent perspective, I ask for teacher input since they are in the classroom with my student. Parent struggle: child gets up early to attend class to return home 3 1/2 hours later. Suggestion, stay home, be well rested, virtual lessons, no lost time with transportation.

  2. Yes please a later start. I would prefer the 3rd week of August or later. Way too many wasted days during the school year already with all the testing.

  3. Later start, please!

  4. Jimmy – 9 weeks to be clear are used for testing. Whether it’s benchmarks, MAP testing, Milestones, pre and post for units.

  5. Testing – We spend way too much time and money on testing. I’ve never met a teacher, principal or parent that asked for more standardized testing. Unfortunately, the central office and board of education insist on it to help monitor the lower performing schools, principals and teachers. Once again, one size fits all fails us again. I’ll continue to fight the fight against the overuse of standardized testing at DeKalb Schools.

  6. I like Cobb’s calendar. Yes, it has an earlier start, but DeKalb could push back the start date and go past Memorial Day (wait to take your beach trips). It looks to be the most “balanced” to me. Decatur’s is similar, but does not have the early release days. They do not use the block schedule that DeKalb uses, Cobb has a modified, year-round block (MWF and TH classes with study/counseling periods included).

    I’m not a fan of DeKalb’s semester block schedule for many reasons. If that is the reason there are challenges to balancing the calendar, is it time to get rid of it?

    I know DHS teachers have expressed interest in early release days to catch up on their massive paperwork requirements. I am glad to see Mr. Jameson’s name on the committee list.


  7. I agree with the later start date. At my child’s high school kids were leaving school because of the heat and lack of working air in the building. I don’t feel strongly about keeping fall break. We are from Chicago and it seems like there are quite a few more “breaks” here than what we had up north. There wasn’t a fall break and Thanksgiving wasn’t a full week off either.

  8. I like the more balanced semesters (90 days each). I fear that making the Spring semester longer, in addition to the shorter February break in that calendar, that students, teachers, and parents will be too exhausted by the end, when the milestone tests happen.

    I too am a Yankee, and it took me a while to get used to the early start date. But the summer is expensive for working parents to find childcare (luckily our school’s AC held up), and I do appreciate the longer fall break, week off for thanksgiving and done before Memorial day. Winter break is shorter than areas with a lot of snow, and I like that we get decent breaks each semester. Everyone needs it! Memorial Day is just late in 2021, I don’t think we should allow that to mess with the August start date

  9. Tiffany Ntanos

    The later the better. It’s so absurd to have kids on non air conditioned buses in August, and then out of school mid-May. I’d greatly prefer Labor Day start, which by the way works for the majority of the country, then have them get out mid-June. We miss out on annual extended family vacations every year because they’re going in August before their kids start in early September.

  10. Teacher Power

    Later start day.

  11. The later start date makes more sense. It will also align Dekalb’s last day of school with the rest of the metro area schools, an important factor for parents and summer childcare options.

  12. Stan, are we to cast a vote somewhere for our favored option? I didn’t easily find info about that on the district website.

  13. Survey Says … cast a vote … good idea. I should set up a vote. In the mean time, let’s just discuss here in the comments.

  14. Any chance we know for planning purposes when they will decide? We are almost finished with October and I have no clue how to prepare for next school year because they haven’t published a calendar. Thank you.

  15. Hello Meredith. The board will set the calendar in stone on November 4th.

  16. In that case, I vote for Option A, primarily due to the Aug. 10th start date and later last day of school.

  17. I like the later start date (Option A) with one change – get rid of the October Th/Fr fall break and start school on a Wednesday. Move the start to Aug 12. You’d still have the Columbus Day Monday off for a long weekend.

  18. Are these the only two options? What about this modification to Option B?:

    Start on Thursday, August 6. Starting on a Thursday helps ease the kids into school with a short week & allows for a later start to pre-planning for teachers.
    In-school on Thursday, Oct. 8 (still leaving you with a 4-day fall break weekend).
    Only 3 days off for Thanksgiving (just like UGA). Full week is unnecessary.
    Everything else remains the same.
    That gives you the same 90 instructional days in the Fall but with a slightly later start.

    Spring calendar remains the same with 90 instructional days & the kids getting out on Friday, May 21, so people can get a head-start on summer vacations.

    The only issue with this is I’m guessing a full week for Thanksgiving might have become untouchable these days, which is dumb but whatever. If that’s the case, and you need to get those two days back, you could just do 88 days in the Fall and 92 in the Spring by leaving the Spring as it is but pushing the last day of school back to Tuesday, May 25 (most of the other districts listed are getting out on the 25th or 26th). At least that’s a little more balanced than 85/95. Or you could start on Wednesday, August 5 and have 89 days in the Fall, and then eliminate one of the February break days for 91 Spring days, still allowing us to get out on May 21.

    This all seems so simple & common sense to me, which probably means it will never pass!

  19. Dunwoody Dad, The board and administration can still modify either of these options as they see fit.

  20. Stan Jester, thanks for clarifying that. As I said, I don’t think there is a need for a full week off for Thanksgiving, considering a) most adults don’t have (or take) that full week off, meaning they have to find something to do with kids for the first part of the week and b) only three weeks later you have over two weeks off for Christmas/New Year’s. Having two extended breaks like that so close to each other is unnecessary and counter-productive. I’m not that old (42) and never remember having a full week off for Thanksgiving until I got to college, and as I said, even UGA has pulled back to Wednesday-Friday now instead of the full week.

    Look, clearly nobody wants to start on August 3, but I agree that trying to have as close to a 90/90 balance between Fall & Spring is ideal, especially with block scheduling (my son has it for the first time as a freshman at DHS this year). From what I have heard a lot of folks like having school start mid-week rather than on a Monday, so the plan I laid out accomplishes a lot of what appear to be widely desired goals, and still allows school to end on the early side. I hope it can be presented & given consideration.

  21. I’ve always wondered why we have more two weeks of winter break? Seems to me this break could be shortened a bit to allow for a little later start in August and maintain some sort of Fall Break, we have embraced those October days off and now plan a Fall family vacation. I also don’t mind kids going to school until early June. I’m most frustrated that we still have no calendar, we’ve had to go ahead and pay to reserve summer camp dates and hope they don’t interfere with school starting.

    It’s hard to ask employers for January time off after all the December holidays observed by most businesses and extra time off people usually take while their kids are out of school. People in my office are back and ready to work on January 2nd. It’s less of an issue for my family now as the kids get older and we don’t really need outside childcare.

  22. Stacey, so you want teachers to come back on a Thursday and kids to come back on Friday? In 2021 January 2 is on a Saturday…

  23. I think consistently yes. The days teachers/kids go back would vary year to year based on how these dates fall on the calendar, but I don’t see the harm in keeping the date consistent and saving a day or two on the school calendar in the process. It would be interesting to see how other districts handle the January start.

  24. Most of the metro Atlanta schools have always had the two weekend from just before Christmas to after New Years. Gwinnett has already posted their calendar and it will be done the same. Off December 21-January 4

  25. Stacey, what you are asking for is exactly what school systems do depending on when Dec 25 and Jan 1 fall in the week. Some school systems have a teacher planning day in Dec at the end of the semester and another one in Jan before the second semester. In DeKalb, high school teachers use the Jan day to finish up fall semester grades and meetings. They have no planning for second semester unless they work during the break (which they all do). The teachers work when there is no school whether that is on winter break or weekends or at night or summers. The school calendar should meet instructional goals, student and teacher needs first. Parent work schedules are a consideration, but not the primary focus.

  26. I have a sister with kids in Cobb county schools. Early release days, horrible, horrible. They are a family with 2 working parents. It is awful for them. They have means to pay for care, so they figure it out, but what about all the Title 1 kids in Dekalb? Dekalb used to do it when my now college sophomore was in early elementary, but by the time you do the required lunch, total waste of a day. I am firmly against early release.

    Start date – I would be a big fan of the earlier August start. Longer fall break, late Sept, is the perfect time for college visits, etc. For working parents, a longer break is easier to work with and places like the Y can offer options as well. It is not really making more days for working parents to cover, just a different time. We would need to work with local organizations like the Y and Boys/Girls clubs to be sure that they can offer some options.

  27. With block scheduling in place at the high school level, I believe it should be a priority to keep the semesters the same number of instructional days (or the same +/- 1 or 2 days). That said, I feel strongly that school year should begin on a Wednesday, not a Monday. I’ll have a kindergartner in the Fall. I remember his older brother and his friends from our neighborhood being completely wiped out mid-week in K, and while not as pronounced as he gets older, a full week back still wore him out as a 3rd grader.

    As a family with two working parents, I think early release days are impractical and a hardship for working parents. Also, why go through all the cost and time required for buses and lunches but not complete a full school day?

    I don’t think Thanksgiving needs to be a full week since the Winter break is just around the corner. Wednesday – Friday is ample time.

  28. Devils advocate

    Students getting Dual Enrollment, Early college applications, and scholarships need to have an earlier start date rather than later so they can talk to counselors and teachers.

  29. Later start date!! What’s with the push for so early a start? If you want balanced, take a couple of days away from Thanksgiving break.

    But in reality, starting school so early means families are missing the first week of school to finish their vacations. Teachers are disgruntled because they have to be there so early, in JULY! Not to mention the office support staff which has to be there even earlier than the teachers. Way to start out the year saying, “Yeah. this sucks!”

    It seems like a small payout for such a large cost.

  30. Just Wondering

    I can remember teaching when Thanksgiving break WAS only Wed-Fri. Guess what? My high school students just didn’t come on Mon and Tues, so not much was accomplished then. I realize that younger kids don’t have that option, but that’s how it worked in high school. Not many kids skip on Friday knowing that they have the whole next week off.

    Also, early release days are a MUST on exam days for high schoolers. We should have 3 exam days with early release for them on each day. Teachers could grade final exams and then use the planning day after Christmas to actually PLAN for second semester, as someone mentioned.

    Why do we think that ES, MS, and HS days have to be identical? The needs are very different, and the calendar should reflect those differences.

  31. Half day releases would be perfect for parent- conferences with teachers. That’s the main reason that Cobb and Gwinnett have half days. It is exhausting teaching a full day then we are forced to stay for 2 hours mandatory and we are forced to squeeze 8 parents into 15 minutes meeting. It would make more sense to spread out the conferences over 2 days so parents who work non traditional hours can meet with teachers as well.

    Either way, I prefer option A as teacher. Going back in July for Pre-Planning sucks. A/C is barely working and you can’t get much done in your classroom because it is so warm. Give the custodians a week or so to make sure everything is up and running for good.

  32. Later option for start date. Too hot to start any earlier. Also, with family across country July is the only time to see them as they don’t get out of school until late June. Love one week over Thanksgiving again to see family that lives elsewhere. Fall break didn’t appeal to me at first, but we really planned for a trip this year and it was a wonderful time for a break. Even so, I’d give up any of fall break before shortening Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Agree that early release is impractical for parents to plan for.

    I like the brainstorming around having different calendars for ES, MS, and HS though I think the hardship on parents comes in for those families with students across school levels even worse that as it does for early release.

    Why isn’t the district going ahead with approval for 20-21 and 21-22 school years? Weren’t two years of calendars approved last time (or the time before that)? It’s tremendously helpful to parents for planning purposes to have the two year view.

  33. I prefer a balanced calendar for the students. No starting in July. Many sports already take up the month of June. Little family time.

  34. Also, when schools start early, Open Houses happen a week earlier as well. Many parents can’t attend the Open House that is held the Wednesday before school starts (a county-dictated date). They are still traveling and going on end-of-summer vacations. It is still mid-July for Pete’s sake!

    Parents show up for the first day and are unprepared for 1st day of school. It is chaotic and messy. Schools have a hard time tracking down all those families who missed Open House and getting them to complete the necessary paperwork, plus PTAs lose out on tons of funds if people don’t purchase items at the Open House.

  35. Later start please – it’s crazy that teachers would be going back in July. With the lack of A/c on buses, in our gyms (well for some of us, that is) & spotty a/c in the building – just from a safety & comfort standpoint it seems a no-brainer. Take one of the days from fall break if need be. Not sure how I feel about early release days – I see some have made excellent points on how this affects households where both parents work & our Title I schools. But would love to see a later start & push past Memorial Day if needed. And the testing….when will enough be enough? But that’s a whole other story….!

  36. Early start is better for kids with AP exams too

  37. I prefer the August 10th start date. Then open house is the first week in August. If you start on August 3rd, we really have to be here the last week of July for school registration. I like having June and July completely free of school.

  38. I am from the North, and am still not used to the kids going back to school so early. However, as much as I hate an early August start, from an instructional standpoint I greatly prefer the year starting earlier and getting out earlier, because classes are geared to the Milestones, EOC tests and AP exams, which are held in late April/early May. Because of this test timing, teachers are obligated to cover the entire course material before the tests, and once those are over, the rest of the year is a waste of time. Starting in elementary school, it drove me crazy that my kids spent the last remaining weeks of school watching movies and learning nothing. If teachers would actually use that time to teach the kids something new I wouldn’t mind, but I have yet to see that happen, and my kids are in high school now!

  39. We are supposed to have a rolling two years approved. Nov 4 the board will approve calendars through 2022. Moving forward we should approve another calendar every year so we are always looking forward 2 years.

  40. Testing is one of my big pushes. It’s extremely expensive and takes way too much instructional time. I’ve never met a teacher, principal or parent that has asked me for more testing. I’m getting traction with the board. This is the latest board conversation on testing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkk1Ak0pH40&t=4s

  41. Weeks are wasted

    Too funny that some of you are worried about losing a day or two of valuable instruction time. I guess your kids aren’t doing the ridiculous Code of Conduct test every year, and that your teachers aren’t going through their syllabus line by line? What about the lack of having a set schedule? Teachers at your school aren’t waiting to get started because they aren’t sure how far behind the late arrivals will be? Plus throw in what DeKalb Mom said above. May is a waste of time for the majority of kids. We’re talking weeks of dead time throughout the school year and you’re concerned with having several more days in one semester than the other?

    We should be attacking the waste of educational time. Why aren’t schedules set and emailed out during the summer? My kid turned in his schedule in the spring. Why does it take six months to get the WRONG schedule and another two weeks to fix it?

    Why should teachers waste time going through the same code of conduct? Send it out to the kids, have the parents sign a slip, give the five minute quiz if you must and move on. Same with the class syllabus – except for lab sciences. Send them home, have them signed, enough said.

    Is handing out books taking time? If the schedules are set, give out books at registration.

    When school starts, school should start.

    I vote for the latest start possible, especially given the weeks of 90-100° temps in August. I would also love to see schools start late in the week so any last minute headaches can be handled (because this is DeKalb after all). But I also vote that these ridiculous inefficiencies are cleaned up.

  42. escapeefromDekalb

    DWS Contributor—

    That one will hit the fan soon I hope!


  43. Testing Burnout

    Stan, thank you for posting the latest board conversation on testing. I found it very interesting. One of my frustrations with Illuminate has been that teachers ARE NOT trained on it. So, the assessments are less effective. This DATA that is referenced…….who has seen it? I have not seen that students taking the benchmarks has translated to better achievement on MAP or MILESTONES. It is true that the county now requires a lesser number of benchmarks, but students and teachers still lose about a week of instruction for these assessments – one a day for 4 days (math, reading, science and social studies). I have seen questions that are poorly written. I have seen incorrect responses coded on the multiple choice – a HUGE headache because these are “scored” by the computer. I would then have to adjust the score in my grade book, manually. To think that the county is paying THOUSANDS of dollars for this is beyond upsetting!

    The county is requiring that the scores attained from ILLUMINATE be posted in the summative category (30%), so these definitely have become “high stakes” assessments. These are not just “let’s see how you are doing” and how can I tweak my instruction? Because of this, teachers must ADD MORE grades to the summative category in order to “absorb” the weight of the benchmark assessment.

    I agree that we need to prepare students for the rigor of MILESTONES, but adding more assessments is not the way to do that. Students need more time to explore and talk about what they are learning, talk about their ideas and ask questions – the more articulate a student is, the better they can reason and explain. Students need more time, with instruction, to write and formulate their explanations.

    Teachers need more time, in a less pressured environment, to teach, to talk, to work with students.

    I have left 5th grade and am now in Kindergarten. I resisted the move , initially. I am now thankful for the change in scenery.

  44. With regard to testing… we were just told yesterday in PD that the admin is watching our grade books and is upset that we aren’t putting the very poorly designed curriculum pre AND post tests in the 0% column. I have students finish these anywhere from 5 to nearly 45 minutes. I don’t have enough time to waste on a post test that doesn’t affect students’ grade, especially when questions are just wrong to begin with.

  45. Witsend, Talk to your principal about entering test results that don’t affect student grades. I’m going to include your example in my speech about standardized tests. I’m going to push to affect change here.

  46. Calendar Options come down to this … You can have 2 of the 3. Which 2 do you want …
    1. Late start
    2. Balanced Calendar
    3. Extra Holidays – Like Fall Break

  47. Late Start. Late Start. Late Start. Don’t really care about 2 and 3

  48. Later start please!

  49. As the parent of a high-school student on a block schedule, my top priority is that the calendar be balanced as to instructional days per semester.

    When a kid is taking AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP you-name-it, on the block schedule, we’re already asking that they learn what was designed as a full year’s curriculum in 18 weeks. If you take away five instructional days from fall semester, that means they now have an entire week less to cover a full year of college-level material.

    Unlike at the elementary school or middle-school level, or at any school that isn’t using a block schedule, the teacher can’t simply push their instructional calendar back and teach that leftover material after winter break, because when kids return to school in January, they’re no longer taking the same class they took in the fall. That wouldn’t serve the students or teachers well.

    A later start would be great, but not at the cost of instructional time.

  50. Stan… that direction comes from C&I. A post assessment for information purposes only takes all accountability for learning off of the student and places it solely on the teacher.

  51. @Stan/Dori. Students in the state of GA only need 24 credit hours to graduate. 8 x 3 = 24. Here are my questions…. 1) Why is our graduation rate so low if students are not graduating in 3 years… How many students are flunking and retaking classes to not even graduate at the end of 4 years?

    Where is the data that shows having a block schedule is working over a traditional 7 period day over an A/B block schedule?

    2) If the county is stuck on block scheduling, why are we not doing a block schedule as APS does… An A/B block. That means the kids have the class the full year.

  52. Lynn King — I’m only a parent. I don’t have the data you’re looking for. I’m not saying the block schedule is a good thing. I don’t actually like it that much. But it’s the system we currently have, and unless that’s changing, I don’t think it’s fair to the students or teachers to take away a week of instruction from fall.

  53. Lynn… students that make it to 12th grade on time are, for the most part, graduating on time. The graduation rate is based on the cohort. If a child enters, let’s say Lithonia High School, at any time, they are counted as part of that cohort. If they leave, and Lithonia doesn’t know where they went, they count against Lithonia’s graduation rate. That student could have very well graduated from Little Rock Central on time, but if Lithonia didn’t know that’s where the student went, too bad for Lithonia. A big issue I do see working in a high school though is we don’t really prepare students for 9th grade. Those that don’t make it to 12th on time usually redo 9th grade at least once if not more. We need appropriate support for freshmen, and frankly, I don’t know if 8th grade is really preparing them (but I’ve heard 6th grade teachers say the same about 5th). We live in a society where accountability isn’t on the students at all until at least 9th grade, and even then, just barely. We need more than a 1-week summer bridge. There used to be an elective called High School 101 which taught all those basics… including supporting ELA classes by teaching how to really research/write a paper (i.e. no copy and paste from Google), how to organize, how to study, how to think critically and ask relevant questions. Maybe we need to bring that back to address graduation rate.

  54. @witsend… What I am saying is in the State of Georgia, you only need 24 credit hours to graduate. Based on that 4 x 2 = 8 (credit hours earned the end of your Freshman year). 8 x 3 = 24 (credit hours earned the end of your junior year). So students are getting 8 extra credit hours more than needed to graduate, and we still have a low graduation rate as a county. How many kids are having to take the same class and why are they taking the same class, 1, 2, or maybe three times and still not passing the class?

    Yes, we have students who move, I get that we are a very transient society now, but that number is still far less than the number of kids who stay at a school for all four/five years.

  55. Lynn… One other thing to consider is we don’t schedule the required courses to complete in 3 years. For example, you can’t have 4 years of each core course if you aren’t scheduled that way. I’ll say 98% of students who fail my class do so because of not completing work. If the students aren’t held accountable until high school, when do they learn that?

  56. Lynn King, I agree with your post. Students in block schedule schools have 32 chances to earn 24 credits.

    I can’t figure out how graduation rates are so low given that students have so many chances to pass.

    Probably it has something to do with the “just promote them” philosophy that is prevalent in grades 1-8. In most high schools a passing grade means that you have some mastery in the course. Although the high statistics on graduates needing remediation in Georgia colleges and universities makes me doubt that as well.

  57. Much prefer later start for 2020-August 10 instead of August 3. Seems crazy to start school so early! Also makes it challenging for kids who have significant planned activities the first week of August in other states.