Academics / Community

Dana Hall Changes the School Calendar for this School Year

Dana Hall has three and a half weeks of class between Thanksgiving and Winter Break this year, longer than many previous years. Students will leave for Winter Break on Wednesday, December 20, after Revels, and return on Thursday, January 4, adding up to 14 days off, four days less than last year. Many students are confused about why Winter Break is shorter.

This year’s calendar change is a result of balancing between calendar days, teaching days, and when the holidays are happening. Because Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are  on Mondays, the school needs to reserve enough time for community members to travel prior to and after the holidays. 

Dana Hall decided against leaving on Friday, December 15, or returning later than January 4. “If the break is too long, we will have to find teaching days in other areas of the calendar,” says Robert Mather, Associate Head of School and a member of the Calendar Committee. The Calendar Committee tries to have 163 to 165 school days per year. Although Winter Break is shorter, the school year remains around the same length.

“We are not trying anything new in the sense that this is a new way that we are going to run the calendar. Next year’s calendar will be much more familiar to the community,” says Mr. Mather.

The calendar for each school year is finalized around December of the previous school year. Calendars of peer schools are also considered so that families and faculty with children in other schools will have overlapping breaks.

Special permission requests to either leave early for a break, return late, or both has increased by 45% compared to last year. As of Wednesday, December 13, 35 students had submitted a special permission request for winter break, compared to 24 student requests last year. 

“I am leaving early because of travel plans and scarce flights. Dana did approve my leave request,” says Caitlin Kuang ‘24.

“Special permission requests are always a part of the consideration that we recognize as an inevitability because it is very complex in terms of travel for families from different parts of the world. And so these accommodations we definitely keep in mind,” says Mr. Mather.

“Dana Hall takes into consideration our population as far as where people have to travel, distance, access to flight opportunities. We try to be as accommodating as possible within the guidelines,” according to Donna Corrigan, Dean of Residential Life, International Student Advisor, and a member of the Special Permission Committee.

Students will need to submit a special permission request on REACH–the student management system–if they will be leaving early or returning late. These requests are individually evaluated by the Special Permission Committee. For travel and family events, students can typically request up to two days. Extra days may result in detention or evening study hall.

Image source: Master Bundles

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