Most people in the community have heard about the four-day school week headed our way if our local school board votes for an adjusted calendar for next year. Full disclosure: I’ve been a teacher in the district for 24 years and have seen my share of adjustments in our school calendar.
Back in 1998, Moffat County High School had a “zero hour” (an optional class for teachers who wanted to teach and students who wanted to get an earlier start and release time) from 7:20-8:15 a.m., and school started officially at 8:20 a.m. and the final bell released students at 2:50 p.m. A few years later, we moved to lengthen the day and went until 3:15 p.m. and, with the construction of the Middle School, the day was backed up to 3:30 p.m., which is where we find ourselves currently.
School calendars are as assorted and varied as you would expect with so many different types of concerns in communities. The one thing that constantly is heard when discussing anything about school decisions is how it will affect students. Students are essentially the customers in this localized educational business, so their well-being and learning should be a top priority.
Should our local school board decide that going to school for fewer days and extending the day to 4:00 p.m or beyond is a good idea, we will be in uncharted territory as a district. We’ve never had a four-day week as a community (Maybell does) and we’ve never extended the school a full 30 minutes longer. You can certainly find well-reasoned evidence for and against decreasing the amount of days that teachers see students and lengthening the day to account for the face-to-face hours required by the state for learning.
Sounds like a good deal: long weekend (every weekend) and a few more minutes spent in class from Monday to Thursday. Some “old school” teachers find it difficult to understand how fewer days in school is going to help solve the issues that have arisen from COVID and the learning gaps that have arisen because of the extended time we were away from school over the past two years. Pandemic concerns saw our local schools suffer mightily from a lack of consistent attendance and learning, which has resulted in a myriad of instructional and health-related issues in students, not just in our community, but all over the world.
Maybe fewer school days are what students need. Perhaps added minutes in the school day will help students stay focused. Hopefully, as the district sorts out which calendar to adopt, we can all trust that the decision is student-centered and will support educators in doing the very best job they can to serve the community and their children.
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As the school year comes to an end, the Hayden and South Routt School Districts have accomplished many milestones through their RISE grant efforts.