Schools around the country are pushing four-day weeks. What are the positives and negatives?


Photo by RODNAE Productions

“Group of Students Walking” by RODNAE Productions is licensed under Creative Commons.

Schools are now more than ever trying out new schedules, often changing to four-day school weeks.This idea of four-day weeks isn’t new, but is making its way into districts and is increasing in numbers.

The four-day school week has been around in the United States for nearly 40 years. New research indicates approximately 560 districts in 25 states have one or more four-day week schedules. More than half of the districts are located in Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma and Oregon. Recently the switch to a four-day schedule has become more popular in smaller and rural districts across Texas. There are some schools that considered the option to change their school schedule, but some haven’t gone through with it.

The first school to have followed the four-day school week was in the Madison Central School District, South Dakota in the 1930’s. But there is a record of the Maine School Administration District 3, in 1971-1972, actually implementing the idea. The Maine School Administration started a three year experiment with the four-day week schedule. MSAD 3 did return to the five-day school week after three years.

The companies are a good example of how we can experiment with having an extended weekend. Days off could improve our productivity. If a four-day work week can give you great results, what would happen if we had four-day school weeks?

There are pros and cons to schools changing to four-day school weeks. The main arguments for a 4-day week are financially, educationally, and attendance. Districts are able to save money with this new system. Schools would be paying less for utilities, meals and cafeteria expenses with the absence of a day. In addition, teachers would have more time to grade and get their plans for the week laid out. Students can use the fifth day for an extra day for practice for tests or more time for assignments.

“A lot of people on the weekends also have activities going on,” Lilly Pannier, a sophomore at East High School, said. “So getting one extra day would help to get our work done.”

Attendance is also something that is important for school. Many students and staff can miss days from school because of appointments and other arrangements. Schools switching to four-day weeks could allow them to schedule appointments outside of school hours. This idea can also increase students’ attendance.

While there are many pros to only having four days for school, there is an equal number of cons. For example the cons could include coordinating extracurricular activities. Plus the problem arises with either having to stay in school later or go in earlier.

A four-day week possibly could put extracurriculars on a time constraint. Families might not be able to accommodate a new schedule of activities on the fifth day, preventing students from participating. This can create problems at home with scheduling conflicts.

In addition, there is the difficult decision of how long the school days should be. There is a minimum of how many hours students need to be in school for. In Nebraska each year, grades 9-12 should be in school for 1,080 hours. And the minimum number of hours per school day a student needs to be in school for Nebraska is 5.5 hours. So most people would be questioning if they would need to add to the hours they go to school everyday.

East High School is a school that operates in a 5 day fashion. In Nebraska, the four-day school week would probably only be used in rural areas. This could help ease the pressure of school with one day off each week.

“In the sense, you could schedule all your activities on that day,” said Principal Fries. “You’d have a lot less kids missing for certain things. However, I don’t know if they’re getting as much learning done in those four days.”

This is what Principal Fries thought about what the four-day school week would look like at East. School is from 8-3, but with a change of one day off the amount of time at school would be different. It would be around 8-5. Adding two more hours in school will make up for the minimum amount of time students have to be in school for.

“And then those students that are still in activities, will be having them much later,” said Fries.

Students in extracurriculars might not appreciate having school later and then having practices after 5. With homework added to their school weeks it could be too much and students would have to stay up later.

“I would actually be really interested in the schedule with longer breaks, like between quarters,” said Fries. “Go to school for 6 weeks, get two weeks off.”

If East was able to implement an idea of four-day weeks it would look a bit different. At East we could have 6 weeks of school and then get two weeks or a week and half off between quarters. This a compromise students and staff at East might appreciate instead of four-day weeks.