Revitalizing the idea of a 4-day work week


Muniratu Shaibu

Outside of actually attending school, students have other homework that is assigned out of class, attending extracurriculars and even going to work. This 5 day school week as you can see is pretty rigorous, back to back, and doesn’t allow students to rest. With a 4 day school week, both students and staff could take a day to themselves to focus on other aspects of life.

Muniratu Shaibu, Staff Writer

Although cutting the school and work week short isn’t always a hot topic, it has resurfaced since the COVID-19 pandemic and I believe it’s relevant now more than ever. Especially considering the fact that we’re all trying to resume to ‘normal’ after the pandemic. There are many different approaches to this topic, but I want to focus more on how having a 4 day school week would have a positive impact on students and staff, as compared to what we currently have. As of December 2022, this is something that quite a few countries and even states in the U.S. have taken action to adopt. Countries like Belgium, Iceland, Australia, and Denmark all have ~33 hours as the average work week, the 2nd shortest average work week worldwide. Compared to the 41% of employees in America that work over 45 hours throughout the week, this shows us that something clearly needs to change. 

Teaching is one of the professions that requires one to be at work over the average hours due to grading assignments, trying to support students one-on-one, and much more. Not only are our teacher’s employees, but they are also humans with other aspects of life to look after. At the same time, many high school students have certain extracurriculars or responsibilities to take care of outside of school. Unfortunately, because of the way our school system is set up, school takes up most of our time, energy, and focus. It only becomes more and more difficult for students to balance out different aspects of life as they get older. As a high school student myself, outside of school, I have responsibilities with family, home, and even just simply trying to take care of my mental health.

Nasteho Abdi, a sophomore, speaks of how short our 2 day weekends are. “Friday isn’t really a part of the weekend because you still have school, you know?”A lot of times, the weekend goes by rapidly and is put towards catching up on school work or even making a bit of dough. Schoolwork from multiple classes can pile up and it’s very easy to fall behind when one is trying to juggle numerous things and have some time to themselves at the end of the day or week. 

Depending on what day is the off day, the week could look pretty different. Some students would rather have a Monday off, starting the week a bit later, or a Friday off, with an extended weekend. Kylie Marshall, a U.S. History and AVID 9 teacher thinks back to our schedules during hybrid learning a lot. For most, instead of having meetings every day for all classes consecutively, we’d have an asynchronous Wednesday. As someone who truly struggled along with many others during online schooling, I really appreciated only having asynchronous work as I would take the time to catch up or bask in my hobbies for a bit. However, I think the more critical part here is the fact that on these asynchronous days, students would still be able to meet with their teachers individually, through office hours. With office hours, students were still able to reach and connect with their teachers on their own terms and at their own pace.  

Marshall is someone who is all for providing students with the time they need when it comes to schoolwork. With one day of the week off, students would be able to spend that day as a self-care day or even a catch-up day. “I would hope that it would be flexible for the needs that we feel we need as a school, as staff, and for students,” Marshall mentions. Not only do students need a breather, but also our staff and teachers. Many teachers have to wake up as early as 5 am to get to school and be able to teach with a very lengthy day ahead of them. Marshall even suggests having more of a schedule where we’d alternate back and forth between what we do for different off days. One day could be office hours, another day it could be professional development for teachers or even collaborating, working, and connecting with other teachers. Yet still, many high school schedules are back-to-back, with only a 30-minute lunch period and 5-minute passing times, it’s all quite rigorous. 

As previously mentioned, with a 4-day school week, students wouldn’t be as overwhelmed or stressed with the fact that they have to be in classes back to back 5 days in a row. Whether that day off would be a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday both students and staff would be able to take a breather. All could use a day off to either catch up on schoolwork, without worrying or feeling anxious about more work being assigned. Teachers could use another day to grade schoolwork, do lesson planning, or even take care of themselves and their well-being.