An increasing number of American schools have begun implementing shortened, 4-day learning weeks for their students, sparking a discussion and creating controversy as many adults continue to work 5-day weeks.
As Fox News reports, the change has been seen in hundreds of school districts across the country, located primarily in rural areas and western states. The reduction has been justified by many schools as a cost-cutting measure, as well as a boost to recruitment for teachers. Others have criticized the possible developmental dangers of reduced time in the classroom for the students themselves, especially after two years of lockdowns during the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic.
While parents seem to be more in support of the shortened school weeks, those with younger children admit to struggling with childcare for the extra day off, as most parents still have to work at their jobs on that day.
In the town of Independence, Missouri, students now have Mondays off in addition to Saturdays and Sundays. Brandi Pruente, a mother of three, said that having to deal with the extra childcare makes her “feel like I’m back in the COVID shutdown.”
“I want my kids in an educational environment,” she added. “And I don’t want to pay for somebody to babysit them.”
Many parents share Pruente’s sentiment regarding the high costs of paying a babysitter or arranging some other form of childcare. Some, like Pruente, have enlisted the help of family members such as the childrens’ grandparents.
Currently, out of the 13,000 school districts in the United States overall, roughly 900 have implemented the shortened schedule. In 2019, that amount was just 662; in 1999, only 100 had such a schedule in place. Despite the justification of such a measure as saving money for the districts, a study by the Economic Commission of the States determined that average savings by reducing the learning week were between 0.4% and 2.5% of a district’s annual budget.