Joris Ray

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Joris Ray speaks during the school board’s first votes in person in a year.

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for their newsletters here:

The 2021-22 school year will begin Aug. 9 and end before Memorial Day in a calendar that Shelby County Schools board members approved Tuesday.

The start date ensures that the first semester ends before winter break, but also shortens the upcoming summer break.

The Memphis district’s current school year is ending two weeks later than normal. Afterward, many students and up to half the district’s teachers will enter a four-week summer learning program to combat learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shelby County Schools officials expect the summer learning program, which state law requires districts to offer, to serve as many as a third of its students. Some board members worried about student and teacher burnout, but Superintendent Joris Ray said during a previous meeting that ending next school year by Memorial Day was more important to survey respondents than a longer summer break this year.

The Aug. 9 start date was the more popular option among parents and teachers in a district survey last month.

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