IWCS announces calendar changes in response to James River Bridge closures

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Isle of Wight County Schools is proposing a series of school calendar changes in response to  planned four-day shutdowns of the James River Bridge in January and February.

The Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a contract to PCL Construction to replace 80 2-inch-thick wire cables original to the 41-year-old drawbridge that connects Isle of Wight with Newport News.

The first of the two closures – one for each drawbridge tower – is set to begin at 1 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 12, and continue through 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16, during which all four travel lanes will be impassable. 

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Due to the large number of teachers who live outside the county and commute using the bridge, IWCS is proposing to make Jan. 12 a work-from-home day for students and staff. Schools were already to close on Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In the event of inclement weather or another reason to delay the work, VDOT has announced Jan. 19-23 as backup dates for the first of the two closures. If this happens, Jan. 12 will remain an in-person school day for staff and students, Jan. 19 will be a virtual day and schools will close on Jan. 22.

IWCS Superintendent Theo Cramer plans to announce by 3 p.m. on Jan. 11 which of the two sets of January schedule changes IWCS will follow. In either case, Jan. 31 will be converted from a student holiday to a regular school day to make up for the loss of in-person instructional time.

The second four-day closure is set to begin at 1 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 2 – a day IWCS students are already scheduled to be off – and continue through 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6. VDOT has designated Feb. 8-12 as backup dates for the second closure.

If VDOT sticks to the Feb. 2-5 schedule, IWCS plans to make Feb. 5 a student holiday and virtual workday for staff. If VDOT switches to the backup dates, Feb. 5 will remain an in-person school day for students and staff and Feb. 8-9 will be virtual days for students and staff.