BURTONSVILLE, Md. — As a new school year got underway in Montgomery County on Tuesday, students in Maryland’s largest school system headed back to class with mixed feelings about their longer summer break.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order requiring, with few exceptions, public schools across the state to start classes after the Labor Day holiday. It’s the first time Maryland students went back to class in September in more than two decades.
“Lots of staff members and families are worried about students not having enough engagement during the summer and losing ground,” said Jack Smith, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. “Sometimes, for families too, during the last couple of weeks child care becomes a real challenge.”
Other education leaders heard similar concerns.
“Not everybody has the means for additional vacation or even any vacation,” said Mike Durso, president of the county’s board of education. “The shining novelty of an extra week off doesn’t deal with the reality of how it’s going to impact everybody.”
Still, both Smith and Durso said they heard positive feedback about families traveling and spending more time together.
“I think it’s a bit of a mixed bag,” Durso said.
That fact was evident at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Maryland, Tuesday morning as students expressed a range of feelings.
One senior on the football team said he preferred the old schedule.
“We had our first game already, but school wasn’t in yet so it didn’t feel the same,” he said. “It didn’t have that first home game feel.”
Another student, a sophomore, said she also liked the previous schedule more but understood why some of her classmates might disagree with her.
“It gives you more time to prepare, but I’d rather start earlier than later,” she said.
While critics have questioned whether starting after Labor Day is the right move for students and school districts, both Hogan and Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot have said that it allows for more time to enjoy summer vacation and provides an economic boost to the state’s tourism industry and small businesses.
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