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Long IslandEducation

Back-to-school days across Long Island

Kindergarten teacher Dana Thomas leads students on the

Kindergarten teacher Dana Thomas leads students on the first day of school at the Longwood district's Charles E. Walters Elementary School in Yaphank on Sept. 4. Credit: Barry Sloan

Students in Long Island's public schools will kick off the 2019-20 academic year on one of the three days following Labor Day, with 111 of 124 districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties holding the first day of class Sept. 3 or Sept. 4 and 13 systems starting Sept. 5.

The staggered nature of students' back-to-school days is typical for the Island, driven by when Labor Day falls and whether teachers' unions in individual districts adhere to contracts specifying that classes begin after the holiday.

Most public schools set calendars that fall between the state-mandated minimum of 180 days of classroom instruction and 184 days. The number of days of instruction above 180 is a matter of district choice.

In the Jericho district, classes begin Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day. The Nassau County district has a school calendar of 186 days — more than most in New York, educators said.

“We believe this … is the longest of any school district in the state,” Superintendent Henry L. Grishman said. “Obviously, there is some belief in Jericho that the more days that kids are in school and the more days of instruction is a positive thing.”

Classes start in 44 districts Sept. 3, in 67 districts Sept. 4 and in the aforementioned 13 districts Sept. 5. One district — William Floyd, based in Mastic Beach — splits its start dates for students between Sept. 3 and 4.

A list of the first days of school in each district, compiled from online calendars, can be found here.

Opening days in private and parochial schools vary as well. Many schools under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Rockville Centre's Department of Education begin classes on Sept. 3 or 4, according to online school calendars.

Bernadette Burns, president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, said the start of the school year always marks a special time in the school calendar.

“Each September is a new beginning, allowing us a fresh look at all of the wonderful possibilities the future holds,” said Burns, who is superintendent of the West Islip system.

Teachers and staff report to their districts before the opening of school. This year, many on Long Island are returning during the week before Labor Day, or on Sept. 3.

Three weeks after classes begin, nearly all of the Island's public schools will be closed on both Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, followed by  closing for Yom Kippur on Oct. 9. Schools will be closed Oct. 14 for Columbus Day.

With Michael R. Ebert

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