Four-Day School Weeks: Pros and Cons

Aiden Crousore, Staff Writer

There are schools throughout many states making the switch to four-day school weeks to attract more teachers, to lower wear and tear on materials, and to save money. The Journalist’s Resource highlights the research that has been done on the subject, mainly about how it affects teachers and their ability to educate and students’ ability to learn.

The studies done show that teacher and staff morale increases due to the shorter work week, which also means recruiting teachers and staff is easier.  Teachers appreciate the extra day for planning and grading, stress relief, and professional development. Parents appreciate these Fridays off because they can schedule things like doctor and dentist appointments. Student-athletes and their coaches benefit, as well, because players don’t miss instructional time on Fridays due to leaving school early for games. Students respond well to the shorter school week, too, as reflected by increased attendance throughout the year. Schools on a four-day week have also reported decreased disciplinary referrals issued by administration, and, most importantly, increased academic performance in students.

Menchville Assistant Principal Joe Edwards says that he can see a positive difference in student morale, even teacher and staff morale, when he interacts with them after a three day weekend or on days with a two-hour delay.  Edwards says that when students are “well rested” and “happier,” they can retain information better in school because they come in with a positive attitude and are more ready to learn.

The major motivator for a four-day school week is school budgeting and it’s limitations. Things such as transportation, staffing, and power usage are all areas where having a four-day school week would help cut costs.  The average percentile that a school saves is between 0.4% and 2.5%. To put it into perspective, if Newport News schools saved 1.4% of the budget by switching to a four-day school week, they would save approximately $4,256,000.

Although there are many pros to transitioning to a four-day school week, there can also be cons. To meet state hourly or daily educational requirement minimums, school days would extend by an hour to make up for the lost day. Some believe extending the school day would make it more difficult for students to focus, especially the younger students in elementary school. This could also be a problem for families with parents who are at work and cannot be at home when their younger children don’t have school on Fridays.

A simple solution to most of the problems presented would be for these four-day school weeks to only be implemented in the middle and high school levels. An alternative option, one which other schools with four-day weeks have already implemented, would be to make arrangements with local Boys and Girl Clubs and other daycare programs; on Fridays, kids whose parents choose to opt in can go to these daycare programs while their parents are at work.

The transition to a four-day school week has been made in many rural areas with much success and has spread to more urban areas recently. It has yet to be adopted by large cities with large school system populations- such as our own. However, this method of schooling has had positive feedback, and it looks promising to help many other school systems save money while also benefiting students academically and socially.