The confusion caused by the pandemic made the 2020-2021 school year very difficult for everyone. But if there was one bright side, it would have to be those good old half days on Wednesdays. Cutting the week in half often gave a much-needed break during a stressful year. Times have changed, but I believe that when done right, half-day Wednesdays could be beneficial to students’ learning.
Studies have shown that the consecutive five-day work week is very energy-inefficient. By Friday, many people are so drained from the past week that they need to use Saturday as a recovery day, leaving only Sunday for true rest and relaxation. Turning Wednesday into a weekend, and working on Saturday instead, would result in the same amount of work per week. But two- and three-day stretches followed by a break are much less draining, resulting in more relaxing rest on break days, as well as more focused and efficient work on work days. While it would be difficult to implement this system into school systems, there are studies that show that mid-week breaks are great for productivity.
The matter of time lost due to half-day Wednesdays was an important issue last year, but there are several ways to fix this. One method would be to add more school days to the year. Losing half of one day every week over a 180-day school year results in a total of 18 days lost. To get this learning time back, days could be taken from other breaks throughout the year. A week or two from summer break, a few days from winter break and a few days from spring break could make up the lost time and ensure enough time is left in the year to get through the curriculum in each class. Or better yet, with the added productivity bonus from the mid-week breaks, 180 days may be unnecessary, and teachers may find that they can teach a more focused and energized class more efficiently than before.
While some viewed the half day Wednesday as a minor guilty pleasure that interfered with the learning process, they can and should be considered for the future as an effective way to improve productivity.