CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Summer vacation has already come to an end for school students in parts of West Virginia.

More county schools are opening for the 2014-2015 school year this week and almost all of the Mountain State’s students will be back in class by the end of next week.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said it’s been a whirlwind for many families. “Many of them had vacations planned. Many of them had other things. The summer work for high school students has been drastically shortened,” Lee said.

Starting this year, state law requires all county school systems to provide 180 days of instructional time to school students, even if the school year has to be extended to June 30 to meet that requirement.

To prepare for possible bad winter weather, more counties are opening schools earlier with plans to end the first semester before the holiday break in December.

“If we have a lot of snow, you could start in the first of August and go until the end of June so then, next summer, you’re looking at about a four week summer vacation for kids and that’s when I see that you’re really going to see some of the problems,” Lee said. He did admit that is the worst case scenario.

The change to the school calendar, part of the larger education reform bill, was motivated by an effort to ensure students are in class.

“I don’t disagree with the concept, but we also should look at the actual quality time in the classroom and do away with a lot of the testing and preparing for the test,” Lee said. “We also have to continue to look at student absenteeism.”

Opening dates for schools vary by county.

The first county school systems to open for the year in West Virginia were Braxton County and Wayne County back on Aug. 5. Cabell County’s schools opened for students on Aug. 6.

The last county school system to open for the 2014-2015 year will be Brooke County on Aug. 25. As the calendar stands now, the school year will end in Brooke County on Jun. 4, 2015. Winter weather could change that.

Lee was a guest on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

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  • Teach

    Piedmont Proud - the students will have to give up some of those days of their mini vacations because state law says 180 days! So if you have any days off, they will be made up then we will see how happy your children will be!

  • Piedmont Proud

    Piedmont Elementary in Charleston, WV, is a great school that uses the "modified" calendar--that is, a school calendar that goes the calendar year for 180 days, with short breaks in each season.

    Piedmont is a NASA school and has great students, teachers, staff and parents. The "modified" calendar allows for three-week breaks in the spring and fall, and five-week breaks in summer and winter. The kids and parents love it. I hope the rest of West Virginia can consider this calendar. It has been great for our school.

    • Jephre

      My grandkids live near Durham, NC, and their system uses the modified calendar. Everyone I've talked to in that area loves that system - it allows for winter or summer vacations, and the kids aren't out of school so long that they have to start over when a new term begins.

  • Harpers Ferry

    What's sad is that they are going to be taught by some of the worst teachers in the country.

    • Tracyo64

      I agree that the students are not taught what they NEED to know, but the teachers are restrained from deviating from the prescribed (Federally mandated) curriculum.
      Another case of the State suckling at the Federal tit.