High school staff react to explorations of four-day school week in other Iowa districts

A four-day school week, where students go to school for four days out of the week and get a three-day weekend is being explored currently by the Iowa City School District, and Cardinal Community School District in southeast Iowa has already moved to a four-day school week where they go to school Tuesday through Friday.

Regarding the switch at Cardinal, Associate Principal Rafael Benitez said, “There’re a lot of factors to why someone would do that. Maybe it is trying to make people be hired there and stay there. Maybe based on the needs of the community, and then maybe perhaps budget with the school.
“I think it’s great for districts that have that flexibility and have the open conversation with their stakeholders to see what’s best for their school and best for the kids too, so we’ll see. It will be nice to see what other districts are doing and having time to implement those four-day school weeks and see what the results are. Is it good? Is it bad, or is it in between?”

Health teacher and coach Jay Teply said, “For football, anyway, it would definitely improve performance because Monday through Thursday we have more of a schedule practice week. On Friday I think it would turn it into more of a college-like atmosphere for players where they can wake up, have a team meal, eat breakfast and lunch with their coaches, do some pre-game meals, travel to games so they don’t have to miss class to get out of school early to travel long distances. As for track, we do have a lot of meets on Friday. We have to leave at like 1, so again, it would save having to miss school time. I think the extra day off would be a benefit for athletics.”

A concern for switching from a traditional five-day week to a four-day week is it would be difficult for parents to get childcare.

Special needs teacher Kara Bearbower has two children, so she said, “If there was a four day school week I would properly make sure my child had the same school district that I taught in so then we would get off at the same time. If that wasn’t available, I do know there is child care for students when parents are still working. Thankfully, I also have family to help watch and support; however, I don’t know how I would survive without family because they are the one who picks us up. If teachers have to work that fifth day, then you’re creating more jobs because there needs to be more childcare available; therefore, it’s helping the community as well.”

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