A school district in Denver's suburbs has decided to move to a four-day school week for its elementary, middle, and high schools. This means all students, faculty, and parents will have Mondays off and adhere to a Tuesday–Friday schedule.
The new academic schedule will affect all schools in the 27J school district of Adams County in Colorado starting this upcoming fall semester, Tracy Rudnick, the public information officer, confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
While all students will now have three-day weekends, school hours during the week are extended a bit.
Elementary schools will begin at 7:50 a.m. and end at 3:30 pm, and middle and high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. This new schedule will add approximately an hour to the school day at every school.
The district also chose Mondays to have off because more holidays fall on Mondays. "That makes the schedule cleaner," Rudnick said.
The school year will remain roughly the same length.
Rudnick told BuzzFeed News the main purpose of the change was to try to "recruit and retain highly qualified teachers."
"Our teachers are the lowest paid in the area," she said, adding that salaried teachers who move to Boulder-area schools can make $10,000 more.
"This can help retain highly qualified teachers, giving them more time in the day for development and to plan and prepare," Rudnick said. "We realize teachers are doing this on their own personal time."
She also said the day off could potentially facilitate "more teacher contact time" for students.
According to the school district, when a survey went out to a local teachers association asking if members were in favor of the change, 91% of the responses were positive.
For parents, however, Rudnick said it's "a mixed bag" of reactions. The most immediate concern from parents was how their younger children will be looked after on the day off. The school plans to offer child care for a daily rate of $30.
"We realize it's a huge change, especially for parents in the elementary grades," Rudnick said.
The child care service will be offered from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rudnick said the $30 rate is "cheaper than everywhere else" in the local area, and so far over 700 families have already signed up.
Still, some parents have expressed online that the extra cost is burdensome.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to a handful of these parents.
People across the country soon began chiming in as well. Erin Sewell, 35, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, likes the idea. She told BuzzFeed News that, while she's not a parent, she thought this idea could also benefit young students.
"I think we spend too much time focusing on learning required materials in school that kids don’t have time to enjoy playing and being kids," she said.
Sewell is not a teacher, but she works with children with special needs.
"Teachers also get stressed out because they have so much pressure put on them for their students to pass the standardized tests, and having a four-day school week gives everyone a chance to just enjoy life."
Diego Calderon, 20, disagrees. "It feels like our schools are just supporting generations to be lazy," he told BuzzFeed News after commenting publicly.
"This is just making it harder on everyone and basically giving kids an extra Sunday," he added.
"They say the extra day will give teachers an extra day to prepare for the kids but in my eyes all of my teachers were always prepared with no issues when it came to Monday.
"Now they’re giving kids another day to basically slack."
The conversations are still fairly divided.
When asked about students who depend on subsidized meals, and who have extracurricular activities on Mondays, Rudnick said, "they're still working out the details."
"As far as sports and athletics, some parents will have to change their schedules," she said.
On the other hand, the district is looking into providing subsidized breakfasts or lunches on Mondays.
"Our nutrition services are working on that. We do believe we will be able to provide meals at some of the sites where we have our all-day child care," she said.