Districts switch to 4-day school week to combat shortages

Education

(NewsNation) — Education as we know it could be changing.

Another Missouri school district is joining a growing list of schools opting for a four-day week. The latest district, Independence east of Kansas City, is the largest in the state to approve the move. As schools across the country grapple with staffing shortages, the district hopes it will attract and retain more employees.

Independence will begin their four-day school week beginning in the fall of next year. The plan calls for Monday as an extra day off with 35 minutes tacked on to each of the four other weekdays.

An additional 140 smaller and more rural districts out of the 518 districts statewide already teach on a four-day schedule.

In 2018, 650 schools nationwide across 24 states shortened their week. It’s a trend that’s growing in Texas this year. In the Lonestar State, 27 districts have moved to a four-day week. The biggest motivation behind it is a teacher shortage.

Just last week, NewsNation reported on a district outside of Orlando, Florida, that lost dozens of teachers and a handful of bus drivers due to students’ increase in bad behavior. Florida and Arizona are two states that have lifted the requirement that teachers hold bachelor’s degrees in certain instances to combat the teacher shortage issue.

But that isn’t the problem in Independence. The district is looking ahead, trying to retain and attract teachers. Since floating the idea back in August, they’ve already seen a 40% increase in applicants.

The biggest concern parents in the district raised was child care, something the pre-K through 12 district already offers to children up to 5 years old. And now they’re offering a host of ideas about what children can do on that day off, including what they’re calling enrichment programs such as tutoring or field trips.

The Kansas City mayor tweeted Wednesday, criticizing the decision and aying many children will be home without supervision. At least one parent NewsNation spoke with said especially on the heels of COVID, students need more, not less, time in school with face-to-face instruction.

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