Reality Check: Minnesota Schools Starting Early

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For years, Minnesota had a law preventing schools from opening before Labor Day. It was a way to keep kids home to help on the farm and boost Minnesota’s important resort and tourism industry.

But now Minnesota schools can apply to the state for permission to open early. And many are doing it.

According to the State Department of Education, 60 of the state’s 333 school districts got permission to start before Labor Day.

The schools that started early include Minneapolis, the states third largest where 29,000 students were in class on Monday.

Educators say it’s a way to start early preparations for standardized testing in early spring and even a few days can make a difference.

Students in Minneapolis may have been bummed out being back at school but in the end it might help.

“It adds more time on to the school year, which is really important for us,” said Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson. “We want to have more days before testing, and more time in general with our students.”

What many schools are doing is simply moving days from the end of the year to the beginning of the year. The number of days off remains the same for students and teachers.

Depending on the age of the student, state law requires fewer days for younger students and many more for high schoolers.

The Minnesota Education bill passed this year sets minimum standards for the number of classroom hours.

Here’s the official summary of that section of the bill, HF26:

Establishes a minimum number of hours for student instruction. Sets the hours at 425 hours per year for kindergarten pupils, 935 hours for pupils in grades 1 to 6 and 1,020 hours per year for pupils in grades 7 to 12.

The year might seem longer, but it’s really not. Plus, there’s always the possibility of snow days.

Click here to take a look at all of the Minnesota school districts starting early.

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