Before or after Labor Day? Maryland school boards debate 2020-21 calendar start date

Two central Maryland school systems voted last week on calendars for the next school year, with one opting to have students return to class two weeks before Labor Day and the other choosing to start after the holiday.

Across the state, school boards are tasked with deciding whether students will return to class before or after Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 7 in 2020. Some are still weighing their options.


The Democrat-led Maryland General Assembly voted earlier this year to return authority over calendar decisions to local school systems, rolling back a 2016 executive order from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan that mandated a post-Labor Day school year start in an effort to boost summer tourism revenue in the state.

Advocates for a starting before Labor Day argue that the earlier start helps families who would otherwise spend more money on childcare during an extended summer break, and addresses concerns about summer learning loss, wherein students forget instructional information and skills during the longer vacation.


Those in favor of a starting after Labor Day, like Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, have echoed the Republican governor’s talking points that it benefits Maryland business and its popular with parents, according to some polling.

In Baltimore County, where officials voted Tuesday to start after Labor Day, school board chair Kathleen Causey argued a pre-holiday start would’ve been “really inequitable” for students in schools with inadequate or nonexistent air conditioning.

Howard County

Howard County’s 2020-21 academic year will start Aug. 25, almost two weeks before Labor Day.

The calendar, which was unanimously approved by the county’s school board Thursday, has the school year ending June 10. If the six allotted emergency closure days are all used, students and staff will be in school until June 18.

Howard County schools will close for winter break on Christmas Eve and reopen Jan. 4. Spring break will start with a 3-hour early dismissal April 1, and students will return April 12.

Baltimore County

The Baltimore County school board voted Tuesday to start its 2020-21 academic year Sept. 8, one day after Labor Day, defying school staff that recommended starting Aug. 31.

The 2020-21 school year will end June 18 at the earliest, if instructional days are not disrupted by inclement weather. If the school system sees five emergency closure days, classes could go on until June 22.

Spring break after dismissal March 26 with students returning April 6, if weather doesn’t close schools before then. The adopted calendar includes five weather contingency days, including President’s Day, Feb. 15, and Easter Monday, April 5.


Baltimore City

The city’s school board is proposing a calendar where classes start Aug. 31 and end June 11.

A vote expected Tuesday, when the board will also decide on its calendar for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The proposal schedules a spring break starting after dismissal March 26 with students returning April 6.

Carroll County

Carroll County education officials are considering three calendar proposals — two that start before Labor Day and one that starts after.

Under the post-Labor Day start calendar, school would start Sept. 8 and end June 18, pending use of emergency closure days. Winter break for Carroll County schools would begin Dec. 23 with students returning Jan. 4, and spring break would run April 2 to April 5.

The other two options would have classes begin either one or two weeks before Labor Day.


Public comment is open until the board’s Nov. 13 meeting, when it is expected to vote.

Anne Arundel County

The Anne Arundel board of education is considering a proposal to start classes Aug. 31 and end , tentatively, June 16.

Schools would be closed April 1 to April 5 for spring break. If school closes because of weather before March 10, that day will be converted to an instructional day. If more than three emergency closure days are used after March 10, additional days will be added to the end of the school year.

Students could get out of school as early as June 14 if emergency closure days are not used.

Board members are scheduled to vote on the committee-recommended calendar Nov. 20.

Harford County

Harford County’s school board is still considering calendar options with a vote expected at its Dec. 16 meeting.


The board is soliciting public comment until Dec. 13 on a calendar that starts classes Sept. 1, one week before Labor Day. Classes would end June 9; if all seven inclement weather days are used, the last day would be June 18.

Should Harford consider a post-Labor Day start, schools could go as late as June 24 if it uses all seven weather days.

Spring break for students would go from April 2 to April 6; teachers would report for a professional development day April 6.

Baltimore Sun Media staffers Talia Richman, Erika Butler, Jess Nocera, Catalina Righter, Brandi Bottalico and S. Wayne Carter contributed to this article.