Virginia's Schools May Soon Be Able to Decide Whether to Open Before Labor Day

Feb 12, 2019

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School divisions across Virginia may be on the verge of starting classes before Labor Day, or least having that option.

It’s been a wild roller coaster for overturning the so-called King’s Dominion Law.  

That’s the 1980s-era prohibition on schools opening before Labor Day. The name is a reference to the power and influence of the amusement park, which has an interest in students and their parents enjoying the final, last days of summer.

Delegate Roxann Robinson may have finally found a compromise.

“To appease the tourism industry, who comes before us every year and says they hate this bill, it contains the caveat of there will be a long weekend through the Labor Day weekend, either Thursday through Monday or Friday through Tuesday.”

The tourism industry still hates the bill, which does not actually overturn King’s Dominion Law. It applies only to divisions that don’t get a weather-related waiver. Those waivers allow many school divisions to start in early August. But, as Senator Amanda Chase says, it has that key provision carving out the long weekend.

“Now I’ve heard from people in my district. They want that Labor Day weekend. They want to have Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday off. This bill gives it to them, but it does allow them to start two weeks earlier than they currently can.”

The bill has already passed the House and Senate, although in slightly different forms. That means it’s headed to a closed-door conference committee where lawmakers will hammer out the differences in secret.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.