Pre-Labor Day Opening Waivers
According to the Code of Virginia, local school boards must establish school calendars so that the first day students attend school begins after Labor Day. However, the Board of Education may waive this requirement based on one of the “good cause” options of § 22.1-79.1 of the Code of Virginia:
- Being closed an average of eight days per year during any five of the last 10 years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations
- Being entirely surrounded by a school division with a pre-Labor Day opening and wishes to open its schools on the same date.
- Providing instructional programs in partnership with another school division that already qualifies for a waiver. (Applies to only the opening dates for those schools in the division dependent upon one or more schools outside the division.)
- Providing students with an experimental or innovative program – including instructional programs offered on a year-round basis – that requires an earlier opening date and has been approved by VDOE as meeting Board of Education regulations. This option requires a formal approval process and Board of Education action via application below.
The 2016 Appropriation Act, Item 139, also grants automatic waivers for divisions certified to have had a pre-Labor Day opening during the 2011-2012 school year. Item 139.A.18. of the 2016 Appropriation Act states, “To provide additional flexibility, notwithstanding the provisions of § 22.1-79.1, Code of Virginia, any school division that was granted a waiver regarding the opening date of the school year for the 2011-12 school year under the good cause requirements shall continue to be granted a waiver for the 2016-17 school year and the 2017-2018 school year.”
All school divisions must certify annually that they meet one of the criteria above for a pre-Labor Day opening waiver or that they will not open prior to Labor Day. School divisions submit this certification for the upcoming school year as part of the annual Standards of Quality (SOQ) Compliance Certification. Please see SOQ Compliance Certification and Other Required Reporting for additional information on this process.
- Guidelines for Considering and Approving Requests for Pre-Labor Day Openings (PDF) – approved by the Board of Education March 28, 2013
- Form: Request for Waiver of Certain Accrediting Standards and/or Approval of an Innovative or Experimental Program (Word)
- Map of Virginia School Division Openings and Waivers for 2017-2018-This is a PDF document.
- Components of the annual SOQ Compliance Certification and Other Required Reporting – including how to certify pre-Labor Day openings-This is a PDF document.