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Opening school Sept. 8 has impact on parents

Arlington resident David Levy submitted this letter to the editor. A committee discussion the school calendar is to meet tonight. See details >>:

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On Sept. 3, 2019, Arlington public schools opened. The first week of September always feels, for better or worse, when summer comes to an end, football starts, and school resumes. It was no different in the summer/fall of 2019.

In 2020 and 2021, barring a change, school under Arlington policy will not begin until Tuesday, Sept. 8, and Tuesday, Sept. 7, essentially adding a week to summer’s end and autumn’s commencement. Arlington is one of the last towns, for better or worse, which religiously starts school after Labor Day. Neighboring towns have either elected to start the week before or invoke the Wednesday rule, maintaining school must start no later than the first Wednesday of September.

Invoking, even temporarily, a change to move the start day up one week for just 2020 and ’21 (not 2022, which also starts late) would add 10 days to the school calendar. In the next four years, 2020-23 – the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Good Friday, observed by many in our community, will use nine of those days.

I believe the decision to start after Labor Day in 2020 and 2021 will have real financial consequences for parents of school children. For example, this summer, most camps will still end the third week of August. For families with two working parents, that may force their hand to take most of their vacation, aside from the Christmas break, in those two weeks between camp and school or find another week of camp, adding to their cost of living. For the parents of the estimated 500 kids enrolling in kindergarten each of the next two years, this adds even greater hardship, as kindergarten starts effectively a week later than all grades in Arlington.

When we think about the upcoming calendar decisions, both for school continuity and for the parents that send their kids to school, this is the question. Will we break with tradition and start our school a week early, providing better assistance to families managing work and kids? It seems like the right thing to do. Summer vacation will still be there. The three-day weekend of Labor Day will be there. And Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which give many in our community the opportunity to reflect and celebrate with loved ones, will be there, too.


This letter was published Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Town of Arlington to LGBTQIA+ students: You belong
 

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