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Students back in class as Chesterfield expands year-round school

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Students at two Chesterfield schools are back in class Monday.

Both Bellwood and Falling Creek elementary schools are on a year-round schedule for the 2019-2020 school year.

Students at these schools arrived Monday morning, weeks before most other students in Chesterfield County who return to school either September 3 or 4.

Chesterfield hopes year-round schooling helps students retain what they’ve learned by reducing the length of summer breaks.

Instead of the longer summer break, students at these schools have four, nine-week sessions with three shorter breaks throughout the school year.

“If we’re talking about teaching our children in the 21st century, why are we still using an 18th century calendar?” said Pamela Johnson, the principal at Falling Creek Elementary.  “Spoke with parents, I spoke with teachers, bus drivers, everyone, to make them aware of what year round would look like, and what to expect from it.”

Johnson said her teachers bought into the idea because it ensures their students who may struggle in a given subject can better retain their lessons over the course of the year.

Jimmy Lam’s daughter entered the 3rd grade at Falling Creek on Monday.  Lam said her bus was late and they experienced a few quick issues with registration.  Still, Lam said he likes the idea of providing his daughter more structure during the summer months.

“They just started so we don’t know what will happen yet, so we’ll wait another week and see what happens,” Lam said.

His family will have to change a few plane tickets because their scheduled vacation now falls during a school week.

“We’ve got a planned vacation in August, and now everything is messed up so we have to change the date,” Lam said.

For Bellwood and Falling Creek students, their first three-week break is October 1 – 18.

Bellwood Elementary began a year-round calendar last school year. This is Falling Creek’s first year with a year-round school calendar.

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