Baltimore Schools CEO Sonja Santelises: Going Back After Labor Day a Matter of ‘Life or Death’

For the first time in more than two decades, public schools across Maryland open Tuesday under a new state mandate that required them to start after Labor Day.

Some teachers and families see the late start date ordered by Gov. Larry Hogan as a gift: more time for vacation, more time to prepare lesson plans, more time to play. Others see it as a liability: less time for spring break, and more costs for child care.

“I absolutely love starting after Labor Day,” said Katie M. Ries, a Baltimore County parent. “I grew up right outside of Ocean City, and never, ever started school before Labor Day. It’s un-American. With schools being so regimented and recess disappearing, kids need time to play and have unstructured time. That’s what summer is all about.”

Baltimore schools CEO Sonja Santelises would have preferred to have students back in school before Labor Day. She said she is concerned that the additional week of summer leaves students vulnerable to being “recruited into or victims of violence.”

”“A lot of our kids are not going to the Shore,” she said. “They’re not packing up and going for a final trip to Pennsylvania with the family. They are waiting. … For particular kids, it’s life or death.”