Editorial: Early release Fridays will result in less productivity

The school board recently announced that beginning next year early release days will move from Wednesdays to Fridays. For students attending a school as rigorous this one, that’s a bad idea.

Having a shorter day in the middle of each demanding week provides a necessary break. Currently, many of us use early release Wednesdays to put in some extra studying, catch up on homework, attend tutoring sessions or — for those who are on top of their game — get a little bit ahead in our classes. By the time Wednesdays roll around, we have already have spent the previous two days taking tests and working on myriad assignments. Early release in the middle of the week gives us time to recharge for the next two days of assignments and tests.

Sure, it would be nice to start the weekend earlier or to get a head start on vacation plans, but that’s not enough of a reason to make the change. Attendance on Wednesdays already is lower because students think they’ll miss less if they skip 30-minute classes than if they miss the 51 minutes spent in classes on the other days of the week. Moving early release to Fridays will cause an already low attendance rate to plummet even more, which will slow down progress in classrooms — and negatively impact our school’s annual report-card grade. Students will use the fact that teachers can’t cover as much on early release days to give themselves a three-day weekend, and those parents

who can afford to take off from work or who work four-day weeks will take advantage of the opportunity to get a head start on their travels or to simply spend more time with their kids. Other early release advantages also will be diminished because few students will stay after school for tutoring on Fridays and even fewer will use the additional time for homework and tutoring;.

On Fridays, students will be less motivated to actually start working on what they need to do.

The school board argues that the change in schedule will better accommodate those who choose to dual-enroll at Eastern Florida State College, which does not have Friday classes. Currently, a handful of those students miss parts of their Wednesday high-school classes. But what will to stop those students from taking off Fridays altogether since their school day will be even shorter than non-dual enrollees?

It’s not too late for the board to rethink its position and keep early release as it is. Even though starting the weekend an hour and 15 minutes earlier seems tempting, a shorter day in the middle of the week during which we can catch up on our heavy workloads would be more beneficial.

The perceived needs of the few who dual-enroll should not outweigh the needs of the many who do not.