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.”