By Morgan Collins
Recently there has been a large push by school districts in various states to implement a four day school week. States like Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Oregon have made the switch; with Colorado leading the way with 60% of their school districts operating on a four day schedule. Even Connecticut has decided to try this schedule with Middlefield’s Independence School District announcing that they will be operational from Tuesday to Friday during the 2023-2024 school year. These four day weeks involve schools being closed on either Monday or Friday each week and increasing the time spent in school for the other four days. However, this plan is highly controversial among districts and contains various benefits and drawbacks.
There are many benefits that follow instituting a four day school week and these also vary by districts. The main reasons that districts implement these schedules is to save money, boost student attendance, and recruit new teachers. Today many school districts are struggling financially and decreasing the number of school days means they can spend less on utilities, school lunches, and buses. Additionally, many students, especially in high school, continue to miss school due to unexcused absences. This is a problem that is seen in our high school and the four day school week can fix this problem. The teacher shortage is prevalent in our school with constant coverage announcements being made each day. Reducing the amount of school days will give existing and future teachers incentive to work for that particular school district. The four day school week schedule contains other added benefits such as more time for the school to work on maintenance, time for high school students to apply for jobs and internships, and more available time to take kids to things like doctors’ appointments. However, what most parents say they love most about the schedule is that they no longer have to worry about childcare. With the school days ending later, many younger children would be let out of school at the time when most jobs would end. This means that parents would not have to pay for places to send their kids at the end of each school day. Lastly, studies have shown that districts who have a four day schedule have a decrease in the burnout rate of children. This is especially important for high school students when tasks and other responsibilities pile up, especially towards the end of the school year. The four day school week would be a great tool to curb the number of students struggling with school related stress.
The argument for a four day school week also contains some drawbacks. Most schools need to reach a yearly quota for days in school and a certain number of instructional minutes. Reducing one day of school each week means that some schools will fall short of this number unless they run school throughout the month of June. If schools simply fall short due to the implementation of this schedule, they could lose school funding which would make things like hiring teachers, general maintenance, and other school events difficult to do for the following school year. Another problem is that many teachers do not get paid enough to lose out on a day of pay each week. The biggest argument against the four day school week is that studies have shown that it can reduce children’s test scores. However, there is a solution to this problem that does not involve adding the fifth day back into the week. More class time will lead to better scores on these standardized tests.. Additionally, packets and other homework assignments could be sent home on that day off to prepare children for these tests while also giving them the day off. The four day school week, if implemented properly, could be a wonderful and beneficial schedule, for not only students, but parents and teachers. With some thoughtful planning, students could be better trained in testing, keeping scores high and further reaping the benefits of having an extra day off each week.