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Parents frustrated that Arlington has not yet confirmed school start date for fall

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Some Arlington parents are frustrated school leaders have not confirmed when school will start this fall.

“We all like to plan ahead,” said Arlington parent Meghan Thomas who is trying to plan her family’s summer travel and her kids sports schedule. “It is very frustrating not knowing right now what the August schedule is going to be.”

Last year, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that allows Virginia Schools to start up to 14 days before Labor Day.

In the fall of 2019, Arlington School leaders sent parents a survey with three start date suggestions. Feedback showed none of the dates were perfect and most suggested a fourth date -- August 31 -- as the best date.

The school board is expected to vote for an August 31 start date at its February 6 meeting.

“We are hoping they figure it out so we can get our summer in line and figure out our camps,” said Arlington parent Kate Koch.

“We are definitely going ahead and making plans,” said Arlington parent Courtney Desautels. “Then if we have to cancel them, we go ahead and cancel them.”

Fairfax County Public Schools approved its August 26 start date last July.

Loudoun County Public Schools approved its August 22 start date last November.

Arlington County Public Schools provided ABC 7 News the following statement:

"We understand our development timeline has created concern related to a later proposal and potential approval of an earlier start date. Our process ensures community and staff participation in the development of the calendar – and the fourth option was developed as a response to the feedback we received.

"The Superintendent’s proposal is to start the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 31. This recommendation considers a variety of factors and addresses much of the feedback provided by our staff, families and community. It also aligns us better with surrounding school divisions which was a priority for our staff who live outside of Arlington. The Aug. 31 start date also allows for our Dept. of Facilities to have adequate time to prepare buildings for the new school year.

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" We understand that our timeline has created challenges for families. Based on the feedback we received regarding the timing of our calendar decision, we plan to start the process for developing the 2021-22 school year calendar in April with expected School Board adoption in June.”

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