Is it true that schools in the US South moved the start of school to beginning mid August instead of September in an effort to stop outbreaks of polio, cholera, and sleeping sickness?
When asked by newcomers why we started school so early, my Dad, Aunt, Grandparents and other relatives their ages (school aged to adult during the Depression) always gave the same story.
Before the vaccine was developed, Doctors and the health department saw a spike in Polio mid to late August and into September. There was also a spike in cholera, and sleeping sickness. Because cholera and sleeping sickness are associated with unclean/stagnate water, it was believed that all three spikes were because kids were swimming in the creeks and bayous to cool off - and lower rainfall during that month meant the creeks and bayous weren't being flushed out.
A couple of years where there was lots of tropical activity so a storm or hurricane hit there was not a spike. So after trying to keep the kids out of the water and failing, the adults moved up the date of school starting.
I know it was moved back to after Labor day when HB 72 was passed in spring/summer 1984 - and that part of the law went into effect in the 1985 - 86 school year. Then the starting date was moved back to mid August a while later because families complained about kids not getting out till mid June, instead of before Memorial Day weekend.