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Virginia one step closer to allowing schools to open before Labor Day

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The last few weeks before school are usually the most bittersweet. You still have a little bit of freedom, but you know the end of summer is right around the corner.

But, what if it were mandatory for schools to start before Labor Day?

Virginia is one step closer for that to become a reality. Both the House of Delegates and the Senate have passed bills that would let each school district decide if classes start up to two weeks before Labor Day.

Related: As lawmakers once again tackle when schools start in Virginia, what does the data support? 

Right now, school districts have to apply for a waiver from the state if they want to start classes before Labor Day. No local school districts currently have a waiver.

But, not everyone is thrilled about the proposal of cutting summer short and starting class a week or two earlier.

"Vacation time, quality time - it's another holiday we like to get in before school starts," said parent Jennifer Wroton.

If a school district were to start classes before Labor Day, schools would have to close from the Friday before Labor Day through the holiday.

Wroton says she has two children: A 13-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. She says because of family quality time, she would be against school opening before Labor Day.

She also thinks certain businesses in Virginia Beach that thrive off of the last two weeks in August would suffer.

"Oh, absolutely. They would lose out on a lot of extra money and people coming for vacation," said Wroton.

Supporters of the proposal say starting school before Labor Day could help high school students better prepare for advanced placement tests in the spring.

"Norfolk is aware of this and certainly more discussion needs to happen," said Khalilah LeGrand, spokesperson for Norfolk Public Schools. "Dr. Boone hopes that districts would be given flexibility as determinations on what's best for the school system are made."

Lawmakers need to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill before it heads to Governor Ralph Northam's desk.

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