Thank God It’s…Thursday?
Is a Four Day School Week Better?
November 19, 2018
Imagine that it’s Thursday. And everyone in class is packing their bags and waiting impatiently for the bell to ring. The few minutes left remaining, feel like a few hours. But finally, the bell echoes its way across the classroom and down the vast hallways. The three day weekend is looming ahead and you can’t wait for the taste of freedom. Oh wait.
“Did that say a three day weekend?” you might ask. Yes. Because what if our “Thursdays” became our new “Fridays”? What if we had a four day school week instead of a 5 day week?
Our school, like many other schools in the United States, has a 5 day school week. But throughout the country, we see that over half of the states are letting some schools change their schedule by subtracting a day. Being a sleep deprived and constantly stressed student, it seems like a dream come true to have an extra day off. But some people disagree. Let’s take a closer look to see why certain people think it should be TGIF and not TGIT.
A Tough Switch
In a poll of 50 students to see if people would rather have a 5 day week or a 4 day week. Guessing that most students would prefer a 4 day week, we were surprised with some of the results. 15 out of 50 students said that they would prefer our regular schedule.
One student who wanted to remain anonymous said that she thinks that having a three day weekend would cause students to forget what they learned the past week. “The gap would interfere with just remembering things and it might cause students to slack off as well.”
Ukiah, a sophomore, says, “I feel like we’d add more days to the end of the year.”
That might not be the case, but if we were to have a 4 day school week, the days would be longer because we would need to add all the hours we’re missing when taking away a day. Time management might be a problem with planning extracurriculars such as sports and academic clubs. A longer day may be harder for students to finish their homework on time, especially if that student is working and or participating in a sport.
Rescheduling the whole week may prove to be a difficult task, that includes replanning bus rides and time in between classes and also how long lunch will be.
A chaotic schedule isn’t the only thing we have to think about. We also have to take into consideration that parents’ work schedules are typically a five day week. This might be difficult for parents to support their child when they have to work a day more, especially for younger children.
And sometimes, home isn’t the safest or the happiest place for students. Kate Lindner, a health science teacher at Big Sky, thinks that a 4 day week may be more complicated than she hoped. “Many of the families within our school population are not traditional families. Many of the families are struggling in lots of different ways. So it’s not a comfortable setting. So if you put that student in that setting for longer, it’s actually not a good thing.”
Lindner also states another problem that she thinks Big Sky would have to face if we were to change to a 4 day week which is, “Food is another issue. We as a school feed a large population. There are a lot of people on free and reduced lunch. We’re above 40% of free and reduced lunch.”
Is it Worth It?
While there are definitely some problems that schools have to consider, there are also benefits. States like Montana, Colorado, and Oregon have been setting a national trend by allowing schools to change their schedules.
But for almost a century, people have worked from Monday to Friday. So why the sudden change of heart? Seeley Lake High School, a small town in Montana, may have the answers to the question.
Seeley Lake High School is part of the Missoula County Public School district. Four years ago, the staff of Seeley Lake made a decision to change their schedule to fit a four day week.
Unlike other schools who switch because of economical reasons, Seeley Lake wanted it to help improve their student’s academic performance. Lori Messenger, a Seeley Lake teacher, states that “We were not trying to save money. We were trying to get better academic situations for our kids.”
They start school from 7:50 to 3:37 from Monday through Thursday. Friday is an optional half day. Kids who need help from a teacher or have any questions, are able to come in on Friday.
Messenger describes how the community viewed this new opportunity to their school system. “We had several community meetings, involved our students a bunch. Seniors did a debate in front of the student body about the four day school week and we just really tried to look at it from as many sides as we could.”
Seeley Lake’s schedule is intense. Because of the extra day off, they had to reduce lunch to 25 minutes and limit passing periods to only 3 minutes. The School considered extending their days to 4:00, but students along with parents, were worried about the change. They thought that it would make it harder for students who were tackling sports and other activities to have any time for homework.
The school found a solution to this concern and instead made days 37 minutes longer. With a longer day and shorter break times, Seeley Lake High School made the shift. “It helped us out academically as well as athletically. It was pretty clear from the beginning that it would be nice for athletes because more of their games and things could be scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays. And so then they wouldn’t be missing a day every week for a game which adds up really fast and gets athletes really stressed out”.
Messenger also mentioned that the school has a program on Fridays where kids can come in if they wish to. “We do have Friday activity options. We’ve done some art things, we’ve done some outdoor adventure things. We’ve done some trips to Missoula.”
There are many more issues that Big Sky, or any other school, has to consider before changing the school’s week. It’s not as simple as it may sound. But we can see that a supportive community, like Seeley Lake High School, was able to overcome problems to achieve their goal.
So the big question is, will a five day school week disappear? Since four day weeks have been taking over half of the states and are beneficial for both staff and students, it is possible that this may be our future schedule.
One thing is sure: It’d be a Christmas miracle to have a day off from finals week!