Wednesday Virtual Check-Ins Should Remain When School Resumes In Person


Editorial Board

From a student perspective, nothing compares to a four day school week or holiday break. 

Despite initial disappointment with the move to virtual classes this semester, a positive change is students get to enjoy an independent workday with optional office hours on Wednesdays. When MCPS returns to in-person learning, they should continue virtual check-ins on Wednesday for high school students. 

With the virtual learning schedule, MCPS has a four day virtual school week with optional office hours on Wednesday. Students can use the Wednesday check-ins for questions or other help they need from teachers. Each check-in lasts 20 minutes with each period having a different window of time; first period starts at 10:05 and eighth period ends at 2:30. As students and teachers get better at using Zoom, virtual check-ins on Wednesdays will give students time to improve their mental health and academics when MCPS goes back to in-person classes. 

A break from school in the middle of the week gives students time to relax and do activities that they enjoy to better their mental health. School is a stressful environment for students. According to an April 2014 article from the American Psychology Association, teens reported their stress levels at an average of 5.8 on a 10 point scale. If students have more flexible time during the school week, they can participate in activities that will help reduce stress like volunteering, art, exercising, spending time with friends, or any other activity that they may enjoy.

With no requirement to wake up early, students can use Wednesdays to get more sleep, giving them more energy for the rest of the week. About 7 out of 10 high school students get less than the recommended amount of 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, according to data found in a 2015 survey published in a Feb. 2018 Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention article. Less sleep causes students to have a higher level of stress and poorer mental health. 

An additional benefit of Wednesdays off from normal classes is that students can improve their academics. A Dec. 2015 Great Falls Tribune article found that the Melstone School District in Montana reported that their attendance improved by about 19% in their first year of using a four-day school week schedule. The better attendance a student has, the more instruction they will receive, which will help them do better in their classes.

In Jul. 2019 USA Today article, the CEO of Wildbit, Natalie Nagele converted to a four-day workweek and said that it “gives your mind a rest” and “creates a real connection between work and home.” Another company, a design and marketing firm in Seattle found that they could produce 25% more work with an extra day off during the week. The same concept could apply to high school students. 

While teachers might worry that they will not be able to teach the whole curriculum, lengthening school days by just an extra 70 minutes gives teachers a similar amount of weekly class time.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 25 states have at least one school with a four-day school schedule, Maryland is not one of these states. The four-day school week is a trend spreading around the U.S. and MCPS should be the first county in Maryland to implement it to benefit its students.