Today’s a federal holiday, but a lot of stores are open, as are many libraries and even some public schools. While some holidays like the long midwinter break are common to virtually all schools, Lisa Bartusek, spokeswoman for the Iowa Association of School Boards, says local schools are mostly free to decide their vacation schedules. Setting the school’s calendar is a local decision, she says, and there are few rules about holidays and the length of the calendar, as it’s left to local discretion what will best serve communities and their students. The minimum school year is 180 days of instruction, though they can get waivers to go a little longer or hold fewer days. Bartusek says state law tells schools not to open until after Labor Day, but it’s easy and almost routine to get waivers that let them start class earlier than that — and when many started in August and a hot spell hit, last year some parents complained. Schools are looking at the needs of teachers and students in a different way, she says, giving teachers time to put together better lessons, looking at results from tests and assessments. The demands to produce “results” are higher, she says, than they’ve ever been.