Does It Feel Too Early for Back-to-School?

School bus
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Don't get me wrong, there have been days this summer when I'm absolutely pulling my hair out by 3 p.m. Usually these days are the rainy sort where we're stuck inside left to our own devices. Days when my young children don't spend three-plus hours in the pool wearing themselves out while the sun drains the rest of their seemingly endless energy can result in a watch-the-clock type of a.m. The trickiest thing about those mornings is they oftentimes turn into a no-nap p.m. But even with these more exhausting days sprinkled here and there throughout the past two and a half months, I've absolutely relished in our easy-going summer days.

I don't ever remember going back to school in September, though I do recall it being in the latter half of August, not the measly week-past-July start date that today's children have come to know. My cousins who lived in the Northeast though, they were of the post-Labor Day variety, and oh my, was I jealous. We would head back home to Florida after spending a couple glorious weeks with them only to be met with school supply shopping and earlier bedtimes in anticipation of the 7 a.m. alarm clocks that would soon be sounding off. They, on the other hand, had a whole month before their time would come.

According to a study by PEW Research Center, schools in the South and Southwest are typically the regions with the earliest back-to-school dates, with some of the later start dates claimed by northern parts of the country and potentially for economic-minded reasons. More vacation time, more summer job time, more bang for the hospitality buck. As for Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and other blistering locations, maybe it's just too hot in August to do anything but sit in an air-conditioned classroom.

My dad grew up in South Florida and had to wear a full uniform topped off with a necktie to school every day. There was no air conditioning in his school, so he and his classmates would sweat it out nearly all year long. There was hardly a reprieve from the heat even during the winter months. That being said, even in the hottest Southern locations, August heat is something special. Maybe they gave kids and teachers a few extra weeks back then just to shorten the duration of their most sweltering weeks in the classroom—something our children typically don't have to deal with.

Even with all this dragging of feet as we head back into our routines, it's important to note that there's a lot that goes into decisions like when children should head back to school—and most of it doesn't have a lick to do with what's best for the tourism industry. In a 2015 CNN article "Back to school: Why August Is the New September" a handful of Atlanta Public School educators sounded off on factors that weighed on the decision for an earlier start date, which included mid-term exam scheduling, assessment test preparation, and even allowing for more breaks throughout the year. Seven years later and it's safe to say the justification for earlier start dates seems to have staying power.

Whatever the reasons may be, I can't be anything but grateful for the faculty, staff, administration, coaches, and more who pore their hearts into our children day in and out—regardless of weather, regardless of whether they want to go back in August or after Labor Day. Perhaps that's one thing that we can all agree on. That and our gratitude for air-conditioned classrooms.

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