Parents Hedge as Schools Move Towards 4-Day Weeks

( – A growing number of schools in the US are beginning to reduce the time students spend in the classroom to four days a week, and parents are having a difficult time adjusting to the arrangement while juggling a job and managing their household expenses.

In recent years, hundreds of school districts around the US have started to adopt the four-day school week, mostly in more rural areas. The reason often cited for this is cost effiency and trouble recruiting enough teachers to staff schools full-time.

Although surveys have shown the majority of parents approve, parents with younger children are finding it difficult to manage the cost and complication of finding child care for an extra weekday, which is particularly hard for parents with children that have disabilities.

Parents are not only trying to figure out how to rearrange their lives around the schedule change, some are also concerned about the after effects of the pandemic lockdowns which causes students to miss a significant period of learning. It’s also worth noting that the lockdowns and vaccine mandates are part of the reason there’s a teacher shortage, causing many to leave the profession.

Nationwide, nearly 900 out of 13,000 school districts currently operate on some form of truncated schedule, which is over 200 more than in 2019. In 1999, it was only around 100 districts, according to an Oregon State University associate economics professor.

The number of districts employing three-day weekends frequently has more than doubled in Missouri since the pandemic lockdowns, rising to 30% from 12%. Lawmakers in the state are pushing back, arguing diminishing time students spend with teachers is setting them back further. One bill proposed, which failed to pass, would have allowed students in reduced schedule districts to transfer to a private school on the district’s funding.

As test scores continue to decline, even with the pandemic lockdowns in the past, the ones hurt most by all of these changes are the students themselves.

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