At one time, summer consisted of the full three months between Memorial and Labor days but, as the cliché goes, that was then and this is now.
Classes for public schools for Floyd County students begin on Thursday — the 10th of August — in the second week of the month. Such schools used to start after Labor Day, the first weekend of September.
High School sports include a golf benefit match on Wednesday, volleyball benefit on Thursday and the opening of the Buffalo football season at home on Friday, August 25, against Christiansburg.
School administrators say the early opening of schools comes to make sure they have enough spare days “banked” for use when snow and other conditions cause cancellations. The county didn’t need that many “snow” days in the 2016-17 year, so classes ended earlier than scheduled in May this year.
They also point to increasing state requirements for students to reach minimum scores on tests to fulfil mandated levels. Some educators feel the testing programs get in the way of helping kids get a good education. That debate will continue.
In these times when public schools depend on state and federal money, they have to spend a minimum number of days in classes to get the money. School calendars now also schedule longer break periods during the year unless snow and other bad weather keep kids home too many days in the winter.
Problems posed for early school openings include classrooms in county schools that are not air-conditioned. Students have been let out of class early when the temperatures rise, along with humidity.
Farms in Floyd and other counties may still be trying to put up a second cutting of hay before students are in school and not available to help.
One incoming high school senior said her family used to spend the last two weeks of August and — the long Labor Day weekend — on vacation to places they hoped to visit. No more.
Some educators say schools should be “year round” affairs anyway, which help prepare kids for later lives where vacations are measured in weeks, not months. Others argue that school terms should start in January and run through the calendar year.
As with so much that rules our society nowadays, the debates continue while the summer “vacations” for students shorten.
Be on the lookout for school buses, starting Thursday of this week.
As Chuck Berry once sang:
Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You studyin’ hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone
(School Days, written and sung by Chuck Berry, Chess Records, 1957)