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Spring breaks next year will shrink to comply with Hogan Labor Day order

The week-long spring break that Maryland schoolchildren just enjoyed will be much shorter next year in some counties.

Several school systems in the state have shortened their 2018 spring breaks to comply with Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order mandating that the school year start after Labor Day and end by June 15.

In Anne Arundel County, education administrators had to rework 10 days on the calendar for the next school year to meet the new requirements. They sliced the number of days built into the schedule for snowday closures from five to three, and added four days to the end of the school year. Winter break will be one day shorter and spring break will go from six business days to three. 

"It's just the reality when you have a defined beginning and a defined end, you only have so many options at your disposal," said Bob Mosier, a spokesman for Anne Arundel County schools. "Our goal was to create a calendar that best fit the needs of our students within the confines of the executive order."

Jeff Macris, a West Annapolis father of five, said the calendar change will probably mean his family will spend their annual spring break vacation somewhere local instead of traveling outside the state. But he said he didn't mind.

"The old schedule that featured multiple days off and half days as well as a full, week-long spring break, I think interrupted student learning," Macris said. "I'm a professor at the Naval Academy and I think students don't retain information as well over a long period of time off."

School systems in Garrett and Allegheny counties were granted waivers so that they wouldn't have to comply with the Labor Day mandate because of the large number of weather related school closures they expect each year, said Maryland State Department of Education spokesman Bill Reinhard. Prince George's County schools applied for a waiver and were denied, he said.

Some school systems, including Baltimore, Harford County and Howard County, are keeping their six-day long spring breaks and have made other calendar adjustments instead.

In Howard County, five bad weather make-up days that were previously spread out on the calendar will be used for spring break, President's Day and June 15 — so snow days will come at the expense of a longer spring break.

"Obviously every school district can roll the dice and petition the state for a waiver, but that doesn't seem to be in the spirit of what the governor asked for, so we're trying to comply and at the same time balance the priorities of our community," said John White, a spokesman for Howard County public schools.

In Baltimore County, spring break was cut from seven business days this year to just two, Good Friday and Easter Monday, said Mychael Dickerson, a schools spokesman. Carroll County also shortened the break by two days. It will now effectively consist of Good Friday and Easter Monday, which are mandated holidays, and the Saturday and Sunday in between.

Emory Young, president of the Baltimore County PTA Council, said the loss of a full spring break may mean high school students have less time to relax before returning to the grind of school work and finishing out the year.

"The spring break gives them a period of rest before they come back and push for the final month or two of school and have to go through things like exams," Young said. "It gives them a break to decompress."

But Young said he hasn't yet heard many complaints from parents about the shorter spring break, and so far they seem satisfied about the prospect of a longer summer break.

"My expectation is we really won't know until next year, till the reality sets in and it hits the parents," Young said.

cwells@baltsun.com

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