Bill could shorten summer break, threaten beach business

Businesses along the Crystal Coast have been relatively immune to the recession as remote learning and working allowed families to flock to the beach.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 7:11 PM EST
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ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WITN) - Businesses benefiting from a beach boost during the pandemic may not be able to enjoy that this summer in North Carolina.

A bill making its way through the General Assembly would allow school districts to extend this school year or start the next one early. Either way, summer break in any district looking to take part would be cut short this year.

“The business levels have been strong here throughout the summer,” said Crystal Coast Tourism Director Jim Browder of Carteret County’s $390 million industry. “A lot of people who typically in the past have rented a lot of vacations for a week or two at a time are now renting them for a month or two at a time.”

Browder said that’s largely attributed to the ability for families to work or learn from anywhere. The coast has been enjoying that boost throughout the pandemic.

They could need it if families have to stay at home during the summer, but the bill does not specify whether districts would be participating in online or in-person learning during that time.

The bill was filed Reps. Dennis Riddell (R) and Ricky Hurtado (D) both of Alamance County and has been referred to the Committee on Education. At present, the bill would only apply to the Alamance Burlington School System, but its success in the state legislature could give other districts across the state some ideas.

“We would definitely want to have those conversations and share our concerns,” said Onslow County Schools Spokesperson Brent Anderson. “Looking at the wording of the bill, it would be a very simple idea to make it something that would be applicable statewide, and give school systems the flexibility to address those learning losses from the pandemic on a case by case basis across the state.”

The bill’s purpose is to make up for ground lost while schools were either closed or operating remotely.

According to a study by NWEA from November, learning during the pandemic has led to a significant decrease in learning progress and test scores specifically in math.

“It really is going to be incumbent on our legislators to understand the needs of their local school systems,” said Anderson.

Those needs, according to the bill, could be satisfied by extending the calendar into the summer, but may not satisfy the needs of businesses along our coast.

“To shorten the season to mid-August is going to be a bit of a challenge for us or to stretch it into June sometime is also gonna create a problem,” said Browder.

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