The hard-hitting truths to a fanciful change

Megan Burns, Print Editor-In-Chief

   For any student, a break from school is extremely appreciated; even if it’s just for one day. When the workload piles up and piles up with no holidays in sight, the typical five-day school week can feel extremely draining– but would switching to a four-day week be a better option? 

   By law, Illinois students must attend at least 176 days of school. But how would this impact a change in our school year? Would we go into July? Would we move to a year-round schedule? 

   Making that switch would be a “huge decision” and “impact a lot of things,” said Tom Buenik, guidance department chair. 

   “It not only impacts our families but all of our teaching staff; [what if] all of a sudden I had no daycare for my kids [over] the summer because now I have to work?” Buenik said. “So that [would also] impact us being able to even hire teachers here– a lot of people enjoy having summer off. Now, you go to a school [where they] don’t have summer off… would that hurt our ability to even hire teachers?”

   Switching to year-round schooling with the four-day week could be beneficial to students’ academics, however. 

   With summer break, most students aren’t learning, resulting in “summer learning loss,” Buenik noted. So, when students go back, schools account for this with “so much review since [students] haven’t done anything for two and a half months.”

   “Year-round schooling [is supposed to] combat that so you’re constantly learning. You never have these large gaps of time where you’re not doing things,” Buenik said. 

   Although year-round schooling would be a solution to avoid an extension of the traditional school year, it would still cause the same amount of problems for families in the MHS community as a four-day– yet traditional schedule– would. Families could have students at the feeder schools that are still on a five-day, traditional schedule, or teachers could have their own families on different schedules.

   “My own children would be out of sync with MHS,” Christopher Michalides, science teacher said. “This would impact the ability to travel for prolonged times during [the summer.] Staff with younger children will experience increased childcare costs because we will be in school longer than their children’s schools.”

   Year-round schooling wouldn’t be the only way to balance out the possible August-June year from a four-day week, however. 

   Social Studies teacher Thomas Kuhn stated that “the only way [he] could remotely support this is if the fifth day involved asynchronous work students could do outside of school, such as [watching] videos or [completing] longer-term assignments.” 

   Some people weren’t as concerned about extending school into June however, and were more concerned about students’ well-being from the workload.

   “I believe we should switch to a four-day week due to the [number] of kids [that] are burning out,” Senior Gaby Seleps said. “Two-day weekends have become too short, and the amount of work kids have has become tremendous. With a three-day weekend instead of just two, it should reduce the amount of ‘burn-out’ significantly.”

   Yet with this extra day to possibly help student stress levels, the “spark” of it might wear off over time. In the short term, students would be able to feel less pressure from their academics, but with a longer year that “burn-out” will still be felt– just in a different way.

   Although a regular four-day week sounds heavenly, the change would cause too many problems for families, students and teachers.