Shortened fall break is necessary to maintain momentum after first quarter

September 5, 2018

Like my peers, I am thrilled to receive a full week off from school after a very long first quarter, but a week-long, fall break in October is very disruptive to the school schedule.

I would recommend we use the extra days during our fall break and extend our summer break, so we do not start a full month earlier than several schools across the nation. I know students who go to school in New York who do not start school until after Labor Day and end their school year around the middle of June. I am not saying we should completely switch to their schedule, but a few extra days in our summer vacation can make our return back to school seem less daunting.

The 2018-2019 Atlanta Public Schools (APS) academic year began Aug. 1 and will end on May 24. Within the school year, we have four weeks off from school, in addition to winter break. This gives us a nine to 10 week summer vacation. By eliminating just one of these week-long breaks, it will give us a longer summer vacation and a consistent school schedule throughout the year.

The  new week-long break was implemented into the APS calendar last school year. Monday, Oct. 8 and Tuesday, Oct. 9 are Teacher Professional Learning days and students have the entire week off from school for fall break.

This change complicated the summer plans for  many students, including myself. As a competitive tennis player, I enjoy competing in many junior tennis tournaments and showcases across the nation. Kalamazoo, Michigan hosts a large tournament every August that I wanted to play in this year.

However, the tournament did not start until Aug. 3, the first weekend of school. If I kept winning, it would have meant that I would have to miss school days during the week since school starts Aug. 1 this year. Unfortunately, I could not play in this tournament.

In addition, the current APS calendar complicates plans for families in the fall, especially families with young children. You will be hard pressed to find camps, festivals, or other fun activities for younger kids during that one week in October. Parents will, therefore, have to take time out of their work schedules to provide entertainment for their kids.

Having a full week off from school instead of a shortened  four-day weekend may be beneficial for students who need to relax and recharge after a slow first quarter. This may be true, but it also means that they can lose the momentum they had. Think about how hard it is to come back after Thanksgiving break knowing that final exams and projects are creeping around at the end of the year. With two week-long breaks in one semester, it is very challenging for students to maintain their focus.

Almost every student will be in support of a break from school, but we have to take into account the consequences of how time consuming those breaks are to APS families and teachers. Eliminating fall break will make a huge difference in the well-being of APS students.

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