Surry approves pre-Labor Day start for next school year

Published 4:12 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

Summer break will be two weeks shorter this year for returning Surry County students.

The Surry County School Board has approved an Aug. 21 date for the first day of classes next school year. The Jan. 10 vote was unanimous.

Teachers are to return two weeks prior to students.

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State law had required school divisions seeking to start classes before Labor Day to seek a waiver from the Virginia Department of Education until 2019, when the General Assembly changed the law to permit school boards to set a return date for students up to 14 days before the September federal holiday.

Surry school officials had hosted a town hall meeting on the proposal in November. The change, they contended, will provide an additional two weeks of instruction ahead of the state-required Standards of Learning exams and advanced placement tests, which allow students to earn college credits while in high school.

The adopted 2023-24 calendar, which now specifies school will end on May 31, 2024, was developed after input from multiple stakeholders, to include employees, students, parents and community members, Superintendent Serbrenia Sims said.

The calendar maintains a two-week winter break and a one-week spring break. Veterans Day, which falls on Oct. 10 this year, will now be an early-dismissal day as opposed to a full day of instruction.

Ahead of the November town hall meeting, Surry County Public Schools surveyed community members. Of the 74 who identified themselves as SCPS employees, 71.6% indicated they supported the earlier start date. Of the 193 who identified themselves as parents, students or stakeholders, 62.2% said they too favored the pre-Labor Day start.

While most Peninsula-area school divisions began the current school year before Labor Day, Surry is only the second Hampton Roads locality south of the James River to approve the change. Virginia Beach became the first in 2022.