Why Schools Should Build in More Break Days for Students

Mandy Holmes, Editor

Throughout the school year, there are several little breaks that students get. Maybe a half day at the end of each quarter or a national holiday like Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There’s also the lengthier breaks, like two weeks over the winter holidays and a week in the spring for Easter. 


This school year, after missing several days due to snow storms, Fauquier County schools have named Presidents Day as a makeup day. I think that this is unfair, especially because we started this school year earlier than normal. There are national holidays that students get off, but now because of the school system’s lack of planning we get these extra breaks taken away?


Considering we live in northern Virginia, it’s no surprise that every year we will get some wintry weather. Knowing that this is a possibility, I think schools should account for these snow days when planning the calendar. Having a few snow days here and there, and one day off in February wouldn’t change much. As a student I think it’s nice when we get the occasional three-day weekend or half-day. It’s a good time for me to reset, spend time with my family, and make sure I’m all caught up. 


Students deserve mental-health breaks throughout the school year. It can be draining to constantly be doing so much work all the time. If the school systems won’t implement mental-health days into the calendar, then they should at least let us keep the national holidays, even if we get some bad weather. 


Last year, because of Covid-19 there were several months where students went to school four days a week, with the off day being Wednesday. Many students enjoyed this style of learning. Having that Wednesday off was a rest day to recharge, and many used that to catch up and get all their assignments done. Current sophomore Santiago Chavarria says, “Having that extra day off gave us [students] a chance to recharge and catch up on work in the middle of the week. It also benefited student-athletes who have jobs and could work a full shift on that day.” 


I agree with all these points and so do some research studies. According to a study published in 2021 by the Rand Corporation, students participating in four-day school weeks had more free time than students in five-day school weeks. There were positive trends in student attendance, student behavioral and emotional well being, and the school atmosphere. On the flipside, students in five-day school weeks proved better test scores than students in four-day school weeks long term. Short term, there was little to no difference. 


I believe that with some restructuring by the school board, there is a way to offer more mental-health breaks for students. This also applies to the staff, as the lessening amount of teachers are experiencing burnout from the stress of the past two years. Overall with the struggles students face today I think the schools should recognize mental health struggles and implement more ways to help. Occasional break days would be a great way to do that.