School Committee OKs ‘20-‘21 School Year Opening Before Labor Day

Photo: The calendar for the coming school year.

Despite past complaints by parents fearing squashed holiday plans and previous votes, the Belmont School Committee approved the 2020-2021 calendar in which the first day of school will occur the week before Labor Day.

The official opening day for 1st to 12th graders will be Wednesday, Sept. 2. Half of kindergarteners will begin classes on Sept. 3 and the remainder on Sept. 4. The last scheduled day of school will be Tuesday, June 22 but could be shortened as that date includes five “snow” days.

And parents should be prepared to have their late summer holiday plans reflect a pre-Labor Day opening day of school for the next three school years ending in 2023-2024.

The earlier start is due to language added to district policy authorized by the school committee in June 2017: “When Labor Day occurs on or before September 3 , the start date for students will be the first Wednesday after Labor Day. When Labor Day occurs later than September 3 , the start date for students will be the Wednesday before Labor Day.“

The wording came into effect after the 2017-18 school year that began on Wednesday, Sept. 6, one of the latest opening in many years as Labor Day was celebrated on Monday, Sept. 4. The late start resulted in kindergarteners not having a full day in classes until Monday, Sept. 11.

The committee voted to approve the late date in January 2017 but with a proviso to revisit the question.

The pre-Labor Day opening has long been advocated by Belmont Superintendent John Phelan who in 2016 told the committee holding two full days of classes on the Wednesday and Thursday before the holiday allows students “to get all the hot air” out of their systems before the long holiday weekend.

Psychologically, the “first-day worries” experienced by students and teachers are out of the way, and the students are “in school” during the first full week in September, said Phelan.

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