According to state law, school districts are prohibited from starting school earlier than the third Monday in August, which is August 21, 2017 for the 2017-18 school year. This year on that date, the area will experience a full solar eclipse with the main path of darkness traveling in an arc across the state and falling square over Oconee County. The height of the occurrence will take place at 2:42, which is the time elementary schools typically dismiss.
Legislators responded to requests from school districts to consider a one year waiver to the start date because of this event. Last week, Governor McMaster signed S338, the Joint Resolution that allows local school boards to approve a start date as early as Thursday, August 17 , 2017 for the 2017-18 school year only.
“Having such an event happen on the first day of school would contribute to chaos at dismissal,” said Steve Hanvey, Assistant Superintendent of Operations. “We are glad the legislature recognized the situation and provided leniency on the start date for next fall.”
The school district recognizes that students and staff might have made summer plans based on the originally approved calendar that would
conflict with this change. Parents who have a previously planned vacation should call their child’s school to notify them of the conflict. Employees with a conflict should notify their principal, but will be allowed to use annual leave days to cover days missed on August 10 or 11.
“We are looking forward to providing a learning experience at the schools with this once in a lifetime experience of a full solar eclipse,” said Dr. Michael Thorsland, Superintendent. “But we agree that should not happen on the very first day students return to school.”
In anticipation of the legislative action, the SDOC School Board had already approved the amended calendar, contingent upon legislative
action. With the signed bill, these changes are now in effect. The new calendar is available on the SDOC website under the calendar tab.
The district will provide more information on eclipse activities soon, but wanted to inform parents of this calendar change as soon as possible.
Parents who have questions about this change should contact their school or call the district office.