School board should accept new schedule proposal


Aran Sonnad-Joshi

The new schedule proposal would give students a full week of break in October and February. Teachers would also get four days off. The school year would begin four days earlier to accommodate this extension.

Aran Sonnad-Joshi

District officials unveiled their official recommendation for calendars for the next three school years to the school board and released the results of a survey that had been sent out to stakeholders. The recommended calendar would increase the fall and winter breaks to one week for students and move the start of school up by four days.

This proposal was the most popular choice among a district-wide survey, receiving 49% of first-choice votes. The second most popular choice would have kept the schedule similar to the current schedule.

Although the changes may seem insignificant, the board should adopt the new proposal.

First, longer breaks during the school year would ease the stress on students even though the total number of learning days would be the same. Although the five-day breaks the current calendar has during October and February allow students to get away from school for a short time, the new proposal would allow students to put away the stress of school for nine consecutive days. These breaks are important because the continuous stress that students can feel during the school year often builds up as pressure increases.

This is especially true given the added stressors on both teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic. If the pandemic continues into the next school year, the extended breaks would give students and parents nine days where they wouldn’t have to worry as much about outbreaks and transmission in schools. Once the pandemic is over, the longer breaks might also make it easier for students and families to travel, making it easier to visit family members, conduct college tours, or just take vacations.

These benefits would also carry over to teachers by giving them a much-needed break. During the current school year, teachers have had a difficult time taking days off. This is due to a nationwide substitute teacher shortage and district policies that prevent teachers from taking personal days on Mondays and Fridays, which are designated as “critical days”. Long breaks during the school year would give teachers more time to prioritize their mental health and reset.

APS should also accept the proposal because it is preferred by the majority of participants in the survey. By approving the most supported calendar proposal, APS would show parents, teachers, students, and other stakeholders that the district is taking their opinions into account. Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues have led to contention between stakeholder groups and the district around issues like COVID policies, reopening, and virtual schooling. Trust between the different parties will be important as APS looks to move forward and provide the best possible education for students.

Even though the schedule only moves around a few days in the schedule, it is still important for the board to make the change. Students and teachers have been dealing with increased stress and longer breaks and a show of understanding from the district would only help.