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Johnston County cancels Thanksgiving week classes to let students, staff ‘recharge’

·2 min read

Johnston County will give students three more days off in November, including all of Thanksgiving week, to give families and school employees time to “decompress.”

The Johnston County school board voted Wednesday to cancel classes on Nov. 12, Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 after citing issues such as how teachers are under pressure to cover classes due to staff shortages. Johnston becomes the latest in a growing number of school districts in the Triangle and state to add “wellness days” to give families and employees a breather.

“Tensions are high,” said school board member Kay Carroll. “Nerves are frayed. We’ve seen a lot has been going on with short tempers and I think it would be good idea for us to give everybody some down time.”

Under North Carolina law, public schools must be closed on Veterans Day, which is Thursday, Nov. 11. Nov. 12 is a Friday so families will have a four-day weekend now.

During Thanksgiving week, no classes were scheduled for Nov. 24-26. The calendar change means school will not be held on Nov. 22, a Monday, and Nov. 22, a Tuesday.

The calendar change will require at least two new optional teacher workdays to be added to the calendar.

Johnston County is the state’s seventh-largest school district, with more than 37,000 students. School board members asked staff to draw up plans to make sure that hourly employees such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers can work to get paid on the workdays.

School districts add wellness days

Johnston, like other school districts in the state and nationally, is facing major staffing shortages for positions such as teachers, teacher assistants, bus drivers and cafeteria workers. It’s forcing the remaining staff to put in extra work to cover for the vacant positions.

Additionally, school leaders say families and employees are still dealing with the ongoing stress of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnston took parts of the approaches used by some other districts.

Wake County and Chatham County canceled classes on Nov. 12 to turn it into a “day of reflection” for students and staff.

The Wake County school system is also offering free stress management and wellness sessions that “are open to anyone who is interested in learning wellness skills to better support children and families..” Go to for more information, including how to sign up.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro district changed its calendar to give students all of Thanksgiving week off, The News & Observer previously reported. The district also added two wellness days that week for staff.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system canceled classes on Nov. 1 and turned it into a teacher workday due to the staffing shortage, The Charlotte Observer reported. Tuesday is already a teacher workday so this will give CMS students a four-day weekend.

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