Most Wake schools will get Election Day off. But what about year-round students?

Most Wake County students will get Election Day off in November. But no decision has been yet for whether year-round students will have that day off, as well.

The Wake school board gave final approval Tuesday to schedule changes for the 2022-23 school year that will make Nov. 8 a day off for students and staff at all but the year-round schools. School administrators said they want more time to assess how canceling classes on Election Day or Juneteenth will impact year-round schools.

The last-minute changes to the calendar come as parents had argued that it was unsafe to have students on campus when thousands of people are voting. More than 70 Wake County schools, mostly elementary schools, serve as polling sites.

“It’s a sad commentary actually that safety is a concern on a day when we’re expressing democracy in voting and our students aren’t witnessing that because of safety concerns,” said board member Christine Kushner.

Voters cast their ballots at Precinct 01- 44, Millbrook Elementary School, in Raleigh on Nov. 5, 2014.
Voters cast their ballots at Precinct 01- 44, Millbrook Elementary School, in Raleigh on Nov. 5, 2014.

To cover Election Day, Wake will use a “banked day” — one of three extra days every school can afford not to make up while still staying above state requirements for hours of instruction. This will leave schools with only two banked days to deal with emergencies such as snow days.

Wake opted to use banked days over moving a teacher workday or a vacation day to Nov. 8. Wake said those options would have disrupted teacher training days or led to classes being held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Using a banked day as opposed to a teacher workday means school employees also have the day off. Kushner said she hopes parents and school staff will bring their children with them when they vote.

Delay on year-round schools

The board had been scheduled to also vote Tuesday on making Election Day and Juneteenth as days off at the multi-track year-round schools. But that vote was moved to Aug. 16.

Juneteenth gets it name from how enslaved people in Texas learned on June 19, 1865 that they were now free. It was made a federal holiday in 2021.

Administrators said that not having classes those two days could cut into the ability of year-round schools to offer retesting on state exams at the end of the school year.

Options on the table include moving around workdays and using banked days to fit in the time off. Board members said they still want to not have classes on Election Day at year-round schools.

“I think the need is as great or greater at some of of our multi-track year-round school based on the volume of voting we’re getting,” said board vice chairman Chris Heagarty.