[Opinion] School and work weeks should be reduced to four days
Over the past few years, more and more employment trends that involve less hours working have occurred. Several corporations and companies have participated in “Summer Fridays,” which allow employees to take the day off or work a half day on Fridays during the summer. Among these is the call for the implementation of a four-day work week.
There have proven to be numerous benefits to such, which suggests that a four-day school week would also benefit students. Both students and workers, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic, feel burnt out and exhausted, living week-to-week and attempting to get through the day.
“I was spending half of my weekend recovering from the week before, and the other half bracing myself for the next week,” Shubham Agarwal, who switched to a four-day work week, said in a Business Insider article. “Whatever free time I had was often consumed by chores I couldn’t get to on workdays. There was hardly a moment for leisure, and by Monday morning I was always exhausted.”
One reason for the relatable and common phenomenon that Agarwal experienced is a lack of sleep. Seven-tenths of teenagers do not get the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep per night.
The amount of sleep one gets is a drastic indicator of one’s health. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, sleep deficiency is correlated with several negative health effects including a high chance of injury, heart disease, high blood pressure and depression. By removing a school day, teenagers will have more time to sleep, recover and recuperate for the next week.
Outside of sleep benefits, it is proven that a four-day week improves people’s health. One report by the University of Cambridge found that 40% of employees that switched to a four-day work week saw improvements to their physical health. One reason for this is that the extra day gives people more time to exercise, which could apply to students as well.
An extra day off also gives teenagers more time to work, as 55% of young adults (ages 16 to 24) are employed in some fashion. The extra day gives teenagers a day to work, especially if their financial situation necessitates it or simply to pay for normal expenses like gas or college.
In addition, a four-day week would improve students’ mental health, just as it did for the workers in the University of Cambridge study. The reduced week improved workers’ stress levels and feelings of burnout.
Due to increased mental clarity and lower stress levels, student productivity will increase.
Approximately 75% of college students call themselves procrastinators. Procrastination is often attributed to feeling overwhelmed or stressed about one’s workload, particularly among those experiencing symptoms of burnout; by reducing stress levels and burnout, productivity and decreased procrastination will logically occur.
This was also proven using Microsoft Japan employees that switched to a four-day work week. Productivity among the employees increased by 40%; this is not a rarity, but rather a pattern. By allowing this to occur in school, students will learn better, study longer and work harder.
“You hear over and over again, from students, from teachers, that kids are happier, that there’s increased morale, there’s improved school climate, there’s positive effects on school discipline,” research scientist at the Center for School and Student Progress Emily Morton said.
Student behavior improved in school districts that implemented a four-day work week. Bullying, assault and fights dropped by 39% and 31%, respectively. This makes a four-day school week much more effective than anti-bullying campaigns in school, which Broward County Public Schools has implemented and generally reduces bullying by 25%.
In addition, a four-day work week would reduce costs and school districts’ carbon footprint. School buses would only have to run four days a week, which would restrict transportation costs and have the added benefit of less automobiles on the road.
Four-day school weeks have benefits across all areas, including the health of students and teachers, increased learning and productivity, a reduction in bullying and more environmental conscientiousness.
[Opinion] A five day school and work week is critical to productivity and educational success
The work week has been institutionalized with the five days of work and the two days of rest, and is based around maximizing productivity while also ensuring employees and students receive the break they need. Much debate has risen over implementing a four day work and school week and replacing Friday as part of the weekend. However, the five day work and school week creates more consistency by providing a routine.
The five day school week provides greater consistency for education as students can see their teachers and receive instruction for the majority of the week and the weekend bridges a break in between instruction. In order for students to receive the same hours of instruction in an academic year, schools would have to extend daily instructional periods to amend for that change.
Lengthening the school day poses a threat to the quality of students’ education, “longer school days could result in attention deficit and fatigue, making the extra class time ineffective,” according to a 2021 Seattle Pi article. The added class time becomes unproductive and students struggle to retain information.
Students also receive one less day of instruction per week which has shown issues in test scores and retention of information. According to a 2020 survey assessing the academic performance of several Oregon schools in which the four day school week was implemented, students earned lower math and reading scores on standardized tests following a switch to a four-day school schedule.
The increased instructional time also poses threats to teachers and faculty, especially considering the difficulties in hiring and retaining qualified teachers. Teachers would be expected to work longer hours with less opportunities for planning and preparing for instruction during school hours.
Longer school days and a shorter school week would diminish student opportunity for involvement on campus through extracurriculars, sports and other activities. Schools may reduce funding and or the opportunities themselves to accommodate for running the school later than on a regular five day school week.
The four day school week also raises concerns over the equity of removing one whole school for underprivileged students such as those who rely on public school services like free or reduced meals and transportation; the loss of a school day may cause these students to not properly eat.
A shorter school week can cause issues for parents in terms of childcare in adapting how to care for their children who have a day weekly off school that parents are not entitled to by their work schedules.
In order for a shorter school week to properly function, compromises will have to be made in order to abridge the shorter week of school while maintaining high level education and for the system to function with other schedules.