CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Most West Virginia teachers don’t seem to mind the earlier start to school. Wayne and Cabell County students arrived for class on August 8th. On Thursday, August 22, 19 counties, the last in the state, started school.
It’s been two years since the Department of Education gave the school systems the ability to set their own start date in order to get in those required 180-days of classroom instruction time.
Christine Campbell, the President of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, said there’s a big benefit to starting early.
One of the major benefits of starting early is finishing up early. Twelve counties will end the first semester before Christmas break. That gives students and teachers a worry-free holiday. It also means an early out in the spring. Kanawha County will be the first to start their summer vacation, if they’re not bogged down by snow days, on May 16. Six other counties will wrap up classes before the end of May as well.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said there are a lot of positives to starting early but there are some negatives as well. One of those is parents who aren’t willing to cut their summers short.
“The concern has been absenteeism in the beginning of school. There are some people who haven’t finished their vacations,” said Lee. “It just takes a while to get everyone in the community and parents used to an earlier start.”
Lee believes some counties may follow in Cabell and Wayne’s footsteps and begin classes early in August. But he stresses in others, like Greenbrier County, for example, that’s not likely to happen. The first week of August is the State Fair of West Virginia. Lee said the entire county is wrapped up in the event, including kids. That’s why school started in Greenbrier County August 22nd.
The Department of Education has given school system the ability to set their preferred date. Lee stressed that gives counties the ability to set a start date that best fits their needs.
“I think it’s very important that the county boards listen to the community and listen to the parents and make those decisions based on everyone being at the table and having the discussion.”
Fayette, Tucker and Wood Counties have the latest end of school date on June 11.