Schools Shouldn’t Open Before Labor Day

Oceanfront, Virginia Beach. Photo credit: Kerry Dougherty

by Kerry Dougherty

Better sit down, youngsters. Did you know you’ll only get OUT of school two days earlier than last year? Yep, your last day of classes is June 14, 2024. Last June you finished up on June 16th.

Joke’s on you. Oh, and the teachers who pushed for the new schedule believing they’d get an early start on summer.

Until 2019, Virginia’s public schools were prohibited from beginning before Labor Day. The law, nicknamed the “Kings Dominion Relief Act” was passed in 1986 to boost Virginia’s tourism industry, giving teens with summer jobs a chance to work through the traditional end of summer.

Summer jobs are a good thing. They teach kids the value of hard work and responsibility.

Everyone remembers their first summer job. And that first pay check.

Nothing like it!

The state-wide ban on early school opening was a boon to theme parks, restaurants and a host of tourist attractions across the commonwealth.

The only way a school district could get a waiver to start early was to show that they’d closed for snow for eight days or more for five of the past 10 years.

That wasn’t ever going to happen here in the coastal rain zone. (Snow almost always turns to rain east of Williamsburg.)

Last year the Virginia Beach School Board voted to take advantage of the newly relaxed regulations regarding the start of school, after a survey showed strong support for it.

So Beach teens are back in class. Unfortunately, that includes many of the city’s lifeguards.

According to a piece in The Virginian-Pilot this week, the beaches are understaffed this week because the high school guards are gone. College lifeguards and teachers who work for the life-saving service left earlier this month.

Problem is, it’s still summertime for tourists. Traffic is heavy around the oceanfront and businesses are blitzed. The beaches are still packed with sun lovers and swimmers.

Which other businesses are hurting? Almost all of them, according to the newspaper.

Restaurants are short-staffed. So are bike rental stands, mini-golf, and fishing charters.

This school schedule was a mistake. Lawmakers knew what they were doing when they passed the much-maligned Kings Dominion Relief Act 37 years ago.

The Beach needs to return to a post-Labor Day school opening.

Lives may depend on it. Livelihoods certainly do.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.