MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — It's nearly back to school for teachers, students and parents at three Muskegon County school districts.
Next week Orchard View, Ravenna and Whitehall school districts will hold their first days of school.
All three districts asked the Michigan Department of Education for a waiver to start classes before the traditional Labor Day start time.
"The waiver process wasn't real difficult," said Orchard View Superintendent Jim Nielsen.
Michigan law requires schools districts to start after Labor Day. Districts must get a waiver to start earlier.
Orchard View's first week includes three days, Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 27-29.
"They will all be early release days," Nielsen said.
The push to get back to the classroom is in part to reduce what educators call the summer slide. "Data shows that students lose a lot in math and reading over the course of the summer," Nielsen said.
Ravenna Public Schools will begin with half days on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 28-29.
Whitehall students return to class on Tuesday, Aug. 27. The district just has the one day before Labor Day.
"And then we'll get back at it the Tuesday after Labor Day," said Whitehall Superintendent Jerry McDowell,
Area superintendents say in many cases students are already participating in sports and band prior to Labor Day.
The pre-Labor Day start also better matches the schedule at Muskegon Community College, where students taking early college classes are enrolled.
McDowell says in Whitehall the decision was made only after careful consideration. "It takes community meetings, engagement sessions, and you need to have a reason and ours was to be in line with the M.C.C.'s calendar," McDowell added.
It's been at least ten years since Orchard View or Whitehall started the school year prior to Labor Day.
Other school district leaders in Muskegon County tell 13 ON YOUR SIDE they're also talking with teachers, staff and parents about switching to pre-Labor Day starts.
"I think you're going to see more and more of this," said Nielsen.
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