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DPS to open traditional, year-round schools with Orientation Week on August 17


The new school year for Durham Public Schools begins for traditional and year-round calendar schools on Monday, Aug. 17. In order to assure that students, educators, and families are best prepared for teaching and learning in a remote learning environment, DPS administrators and the Durham Public Schools Board of Education announced that the first week—August 17-21—will be an Orientation Week. Teachers and students will work together to prepare for learning online together in activities including relationship building; wellness; orientation to online learning tools such as Canvas and Zoom; and reflection.

August 17 will be the official first day of school, and attendance will be taken for all students. Families of kindergartners and new students who have not yet registered for school may do so at the DPS web page,

Social-emotional Learning During Orientation Week

As we work to ensure our schools are connected communities, there will be a number of opportunities for social-emotional learning and support during Orientation Week. Among the activities our schools may choose according to their specific needs may be:

  • Restorative circles and other opportunities for beginning ongoing student reflection
  • Getting to Know You/Getting to Know the Teacher activities such as Introduction Circles
  • Revisiting norms and classroom expectations and the DPS Student/Family Handbook
  • Previewing Wellness Wednesday topics
  • Previewing school schedules and upcoming activities

Other specific activities DPS encourages for our students and staff during Orientation Week include:

  • Develop Virtual Classroom Social Contracts
    These are a set of agreements that the classroom establishes how members of the community will treat and interact with each other.
  • Student Support Services "That's Me"
    Members of the Student Support Services Team at the school share who they are, offerings, and availability.
  • Mindfulness Monday
    Acknowledge how these times can be overwhelming, and some breathing exercises and moments for reflection.
  • DPS Digital Citizens
    Reflect with students on what it means to be a good citizen, and define what it means to be a digital citizen.
  • Values Circle
    Introduce a personal item to the classroom community that is important to you and explain why.
  • Establishing Healthy Routines
    Help students create an age appropriate daily schedule and share for feedback that includes healthy eating, time to sleep, device charging, screen time, asynchronous learning, brain breaks, physical activity, etc.
  • More Organization and Less Frustration
    It is important that students know how to organize thoughts and ideas using various graphic organizers, manage time, and use effective note-taking skills such as Cornell Notes.
  • Hello to Xello Orientation
    High school students can login to Xello to learn more about its tools to complete career interest inventories and begin/continue four-year planning with School Counselors.