SparkNotes Blog

This Colorado School District Switched to a Four-Day School Week, Which is Either a Good Idea or a Bad Idea, Depending on Who You Ask

Mondays are the worst. Sundays are bad, Thursdays are chaotic, and Wednesdays are just rude, but Mondays catapult you into a brand-new week you did nothing to prepare for. As a result, Mondays are the most hated of days (as well they should be). I have long since thought we should just abolish Mondays, but there is an issue with this plan (namely that Tuesdays will become the new Mondays) for which I haven’t been able to find a suitable workaround, and so I’ve tabled the discussion.

However, a school district in Colorado recently said “Screw it, let’s just get rid of ‘em. Let’s get rid of the Mondays.” (Not an exact quote, but close, I’m sure.) Beginning this academic year, the Denver metro school district will be transitioning from a five-day school week to a four-day one in order to save money. Think utility costs and bussing.

Each school day will be longer. The article doesn’t specify how MUCH longer, but according to school districts in Washington and Idaho who are also doing this, it’s usually just an extra 45 minutes to an hour.

Now, the student in me would LOVE this, because doesn’t the weekend feel entirely too short? Two days is barely enough time to sleep for 20 hours and also catch up on my shows while not changing out of my pajamas even once. 

Teachers’ reactions are mixed, to say the least. While the superintendent in Denver says he’s “confident it’s going to attract teachers and keep them,” and that he hasn’t “had teachers say that this is a horrible idea,” I spoke with a few who begged to differ. One is a high school band director who says this would cut into rehearsal time and leave students floundering. Another has taught kindergarten and sixth grade and believes it would work fine for older students, but for younger ones who have difficulty retaining what they learn from week to week as it is? Not so much. 

Still others (one who teaches sixth grade and another who teaches eleventh grade) are fully on board; they think it would boost student/teacher morale and give teachers more time to plan, which could with the teacher burnout crisis we’re currently having. Plus, if the “day off” is Friday instead of Monday, this would benefit students with extracurriculars, many of which take place Friday and force students to miss class.

I don’t have kids, but I imagine this would probably suck for parents of young’uns, so I asked a few. The ones I chatted with said they would worry about child care on the days students aren’t in school, particularly for families where both parents work. And here’s another thing to consider: for kids from lower-income families, a hot meal in the cafeteria is the one constant they have to look forward to, food-wise. So that’s not great.

There’s a lot to consider here. Will a four-day school week benefit students and teachers in the long run, academically speaking? Who’s to say? I guess sometimes you have to try something fresh and new before you realize it wasn’t actually a great idea after all. (My high school switched to trimesters instead of semesters when I was a freshman. By the time I graduated, they realized test scores were going down because kids were taking two trimesters of chemistry separated by a trimester of no chemistry during which they forgot all the chemistry they learned just in time for final exams, so they switched back. Whoops!) 

Final thoughts: I have no idea if the pros of a four-day school week outweigh the cons, but if they’re the first step to a four-day WORK week, I say full steam ahead.

[Via 9News.com.]