A fall break could be beneficial to students and teachers

The current 2016-17 Wake County traditional school calendar does not include a fall break. Studies have shown that fall breaks help benefit the mental health of students. (Calendar courtesy of wcpss.net)The current 2016-17 Wake County traditional school calendar does not include a fall break. Studies have shown that fall breaks help benefit the mental health of students. (Calendar courtesy of wcpss.net)

Each year, Leesville students have a summer, winter, and spring break from school. However, students don’t have a break in the fall months between August and December, except for Thanksgiving break.

Many school districts across the country follow a school calendar that includes a break during the fall each school year. Students and teachers can use the time off to relax and escape their everyday school tasks.

Some research has shown that these fall breaks are beneficial to the mental health of students.

According to a study conducted by Brock University in Ontario, Canada, a break from school during the fall can help reduce stress students have. In the survey, students were asked whether or not having a fall break successfully reduced their stress levels. Of those surveyed, 82.9% responded that fall break reduced their levels of stress.

Currently, Wake County schools that follow the traditional school calendar do not have a fall break. Tim Simmons, WCPSS Chief of Communications, said that state restrictions on school calendars prevent WCPSS from having a fall break for schools.

There are not enough days in the school year to include a fall break, given the other requirements of state law,” said Simmons via email.

North Carolina law requires that school calendars have a minimum of 185 schools days or 1,025 hours of instruction. As a result, there is no room in the calendar to fit a full fall break.

However, a bill recently passed by the North Carolina House Education committee could give school districts the option to start school earlier in August. If passed by the full House and the Senate, the law, House Bill 375, would allow school districts to start classes as early as August 15. According to current laws, schools can’t start earlier than the Monday closest to August 26.

With a potential option of starting the school year earlier, this could allow for more space in the WCPSS traditional calendar for a fall break.

Many other school districts across the United States follow school calendars that include earlier start dates. Schools in Atlanta, Georgia and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma begin classes much earlier in August and have a brief fall break in October.

Jaeden Flagg, a sophomore at LRHS, said that she wishes there was a fall break included in the school calendar.

Students tend to overwork themselves,” said Flagg. “ Having a break is really a time for students to actually just relax.”

Teachers would also like to see a fall break added to the school calendar. Flagg said that she believes teachers could benefit from having a fall break.

“[Fall break would be] a good opportunity for teachers to catch up on grading,” said Flagg.

Monica Wilkerson, an English teacher at Leesville Road High School, thinks that having a short break in the fall could potentially prevent the loss of instructional time and holidays during the spring due to severe weather during the fall months.

“[Raleigh has] severe weather during the fall, which affects our schedule in the spring,” said Wilkerson. “If there was a fall break at an appropriate time, that might alleviate the possible loss of spring break and all of the work days in the spring.”
Students within the Wake County Public School System may not see a fall break added to their school calendar in the future. However, research supports the idea that a break during the fall could be beneficial to both students and teachers.

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