Up until this year, Floyd County public schools had to obtain a waiver from the Commonwealth of Virginia to open schools before Labor Day each year.
They got the waiver because of weather closings.
Why the need for a waiver?
The “Kings Dominion Law” prohibited the start of classes before Labor Day.
Virginia’s tourism industry felt early school openings hurt their business.
“We rely heavily on our end-of-August tourism season in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and the Shenandoah Valley,” Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, tells The Washington Post. “We basically lose the last two weeks of August, which we refer to as our Black Friday. That’s some of our best times.”
To qualify for a waiver, a school system has had to show it closed schools for snow or other weather problems for an average of eight days in five years to qualify.
Mountain communities like Floyd County qualify easily. No so for some urban areas.
Fairfax County in Northern Virginia managed to qualify for two straight years this year but now no longer needs a waiver because the General Assembly eliminated the rule to start after Labor Day, Gov. Ralph Northern signed it into law this Spring and it took effect on July 1.
School systems had lobbied for a change in the law and elimination to seek a waiver each year but this was the first year that the change had enough support for passage. The state Senate passed it 30-10.
And Kings Dominion? The park is open daily through Labor Day, then on selective weekend days through November.
Classes at Floyd County public schools begin on Thursday, Aug. 13.
No waiver needed.