Four-day school weeks are not practical

As the world recovers from the pandemic, calls for a shortened school week to allow for more free time have gained momentum. As of September this year, an estimated 1600 schools in the US have adopted the four-day school week. However, while the popularity of this idea is increasing, the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits.

The concept of the four-day school week has been around since the 1930s when the first schools implemented them. Recently, from 2021 to 2023, many school districts have adopted this measure to incentivize teachers to teach in their school district since there are teacher shortages across the country. According to ABC News, some districts, such as School District 27J in Colorado, have reported that they have seen an uptick in teachers applying for positions in the year after they adopted the four-day school week.

BHS is required by California law to have 64,800 instructional minutes every year. If BHS were to switch to a four-day school week, BHS would either need to have seven-and-a-half hour school days, meaning school would end at 5 p.m., or BHS students would go to school for 45 weeks, likely eliminating winter break, spring break, and most of summer break.

Some argue that there are many benefits to the four-day school week that outweigh the downsides. A study titled “Impact of Reduced School Exposure on Adolescent Health Behaviors and Food Security: Evidence From 4-Day School Weeks” by Oregon State University Professor Paul Thompson shows that in schools that adopt the four-day school week, there is a substantial increase in physical activity per day and decrease in screen time per day. 

However, this argument fails to consider the two most important metrics: student behavior and performance and parent logistics. According to another study by Thompson titled “Impacts of the Four-Day School Week on High School Achievement and Educational Engagement,” in non-rural schools, both math and reading performance dropped when four-day school weeks were implemented. In the same study, Thompson found that absenteeism spiked, both in the amount of absences and the amount of “chronically absent” students. Thompson also found that alcohol consumption and drug use spiked in a similar fashion. 

Switching to a four-day school week would also pose a great logistics challenge for many parents. After all, they would have to find and pay for an alternative method of childcare for the additional day their child is out of school. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the median childcare amount in Alameda County per day is $60. This price tag would be too high for several families to pay for the additional day of childcare, which would leave them in the difficult position of having nowhere to send their children when they go to work.

      BHS and other schools should not switch to the four-day school week. While it would be ideal for students and teachers to have more free time, four-day school weeks are not the solution. Four-day school weeks would dramatically lengthen either the number of hours in the school day or the length of the school year. It also has the potential to greatly harm academics and lead to more absenteeism. With all these drawbacks, the current five-day school week is clearly the superior option.