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Earlier start-date

Posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 10:56 am

Could Westmoreland eventually start its school year before Labor Day? It looks like this is a distinct possibility, as more and more schools get into gear to get their waivers from having to comply with what is often referred to as the King’s Dominion Law, which stipulated that schools can’t open until after Labor Day. The details were presented during last month’s meeting, when Deputy Superintendent Cathy Rice addressed the board.

Nothing was voted on, however, as discussions were still taking place with the other school divisions at the time of the meeting. Rice had three calendars to present the board; the first was one that the board had approved for this school year, followed by two for next year, a bit anomalous, but necessary in this case, as one was a backup in case the original plans fell through.

“Normally, we only approve one calendar at a time,” explained Ms. Rice, “But this time you approved two because Westmoreland County Schools were looking at moving to a pre-Labor Day opening, and that’s not the sort of thing you want to spring on families or staff at the last minute.

“The school board voted well in advance of 2021 to adopt a calendar with a pre-Labor Day opening. At the time that it was adopted, the school division would have met the requirements to apply for and receive a waiver for opening prior to Labor Day. This means that the calendar was in compliance with the legislation at that time.

“The reason we want to do this is due to many of the school divisions in Virginia now opening before Labor Day; and as a collective Northern Neck, the divisions here were interested in opening far enough in advance of Labor Day to be able to complete the semester before Christmas break, allowing the students to go into their break with the classes and final exams done. They can enjoy their break and then start fresh with a new set of classes.”

Of course, the primary hurdle should this happen, is the comparatively short summer vacation that would have to be endured.

“The first summer will be a challenge for all of us,” Rice continued, “because it will be much shorter. That first summer, we’ll get out in June and come back in early August instead of September. So this will be a logistical challenge, as we have to get staff recruited, get the buildings cleaned up, but once we get through that first summer, we’ll have that wonderful schedule, and be done with the school year before Memorial Day. Once we’re through the transition, things will go well.”

For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 10/23/19