The Pros and Cons of a 4-Day School Week for K-12 Students


Recently we are seeing more and more conversation, and news stories about the concept of implementing a four-day school week. This has sparked discussions within superintendent and school circles, leading to debates among educators, parents, and policymakers. Advocates argue that it brings forth various advantages, while critics express reservations about potential drawbacks.

There are several obvious benefits. The first being improved student attendance. The latest data indicate that a four-day school week basically condensing the school week can result in increased attendance. With an additional day off, schools are seeing a decrease in absenteeism and less days missed due to doctor appointments, vacations, and other excused absences.

Enhanced focus and productivity have been cited as a huge benefit from schools that use modified calendars. The compressed schedule encourages better time management, allowing for more efficient use of classroom hours. Most schools note that teachers may also benefit from a four-day school week, experiencing improved morale and job satisfaction. Although the hours are the same, the day off allows for greater work-life balance, potentially reducing teacher burnout and turnover rates which is at a critical tipping point for most districts. The need for substitutes also reduces greatly.

For Kenyon-Wanamingo it is worth reviewing for the potential cost savings. Research now suggests that a four-day school week could lead to cost savings. With one less day of operation, schools may reduce expenses related to utilities, substitutes and transportation. For our district it could be close to $300,000 a year in these basic savings.

There are also noteworthy disadvantages including longer school days. One of the primary concerns surrounding a four-day school week is the need for longer daily sessions to meet the required instructional hours. Extended school days can be tiring for students, potentially impacting their ability to concentrate during prolonged periods.

Under HF1242A the school calendar must include 935 hours of instruction for a student in grades 1 through 6, and 1,020 hours of instruction for a student in grades 7 through 12. The calendar for all-day kindergarten must include at least 850 hours of instruction for the school year. Even though the learning hours and requirements would remain the same in a four-day schedule, the bill would now have the calendar approved by the local school board, versus the current method of approval through the Commissioner of Education.

Another roadblock is childcare challenges. It is vital that schools provide childcare for their communities for working parents who rely on the traditional five-day schedule. Finding suitable childcare options for the extra day off can be difficult.

Critics argue that a shorter school week may result in learning loss over the long term. With fewer instructional days, students may not receive the same amount of educational content as they would in a traditional five-day week, potentially affecting academic outcomes. Although, the schools in Minnesota that are providing the alternative calendar are not seeing a decline in scores. There are so many holidays and professional development (early out days) that those become a moot point in the total days anyway.

I am not sure where I stand on this trendy new topic, certainly many advantages and disadvantages to think about. While advocates emphasize potential benefits such as improved attendance and cost savings, critics express concerns about longer school days, childcare challenges. As the debate continues, it remains crucial to consider the unique needs and circumstances of each school community when evaluating the feasibility of such a schedule.

Thanks for the calls on this topic, I appreciate the dialog. If you have any questions or other ideas for me to research, please contact me at