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ArlingtonSuperintendent: Four-day first week is a legislative mandate

Superintendent: Four-day first week is a legislative mandate

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It’s a question school officials get at the start of the year: How come the first week of class is just four days?

The answer? Ask the General Assembly.

Arlington Public Schools will bring most students back to class on Aug. 29, a Monday, but will only go to Sept. 1, a Thursday. Both Friday, Sept. 2 and Monday, Sept. 5 will be holidays.

“That’s required if we start before Labor Day,” Superintendent Francisco Dúran told School Board members in a back-to-class briefing on Aug. 4.

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Until recent years, state law prohibited school systems from starting the school year before Labor Day. It was called the “Kings Dominion Rule” under the theory that the state’s tourist attractions didn’t want to lose student-workers until after the holiday. (It maintained that nickname long after Kings Dominion’s ownership said it didn’t care one way or the other when school started.)

Despite the theoretical prohibition on pre-Labor Day starts, so many school systems asked for and received dispensation to start earlier that the legislature eventually simply killed off the regulation altogether – while putting in place the requirement that if a school district does begin before the holiday, the Friday leading into Labor Day must be a day off.

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