A few school systems have altered the school calendar to offer four-day school weeks, and others are considering that option. In order to comply with state mandates on instructional time, a four-day school week generally requires a longer school day and/or a longer school year.
Some working parents in these districts are concerned about care for their children when schools are out – both because there still is a gap between when the longer school day ends and when parents get home from work, and because many working parents have no supervised activities for their children on the weekdays (usually Fridays or Mondays) when schools will now be closed. Afterschool programs are trying to meet the need, with some looking into opening all day on Fridays or Mondays when schools will be closed.
“In some communities, the traditional school day may be changing,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “Rising energy costs coupled with tight budgets are posing new challenges for working families. Afterschool programs are doing their best to help families meet those challenges, but they will need resources in order to do so. We must not let these changes cause more children and youth to be unsupervised and at risk during out-of-school time.”
A New Work Week for Parents The four-day week is being considered by employers as well as school systems, again with implications for afterschool programs. On August 4, Utah became the first state to mandate a four-day work week for more than 17,000 employees in the executive branch. State employees work ten-hour days, Monday through Thursday, and have Fridays off. The move is intended to reduce the state’s energy bill to heat, light and cool buildings, and to save employees fuel costs. But working parents have been left to find their own arrangements for children during the extra hours they are at work.
State agencies in Alabama, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Vermont and West Virginia are among those also considering four-day work weeks.