Should schools ‘break’ from the weeklong spring break vacation?

Around this time last year, I wrote about foregoing the expensive Disney trips or the crowded Florida beaches in favor of a Wisconsin stay-cation. Still convinced that there are countless hidden gems right here in our beautiful Dairy State for families to enjoy, we’re doing it again. My family’s spring break vacation will consist of a three-hour drive to the great Wisconsin Northwoods. Eagle River, here we come; fingers crossed we might actually see the sun.

Looking at my friends’ Facebook and Instagram posts of their tropical travels makes me wonder, though, whether a warm-weather vacation isn’t just the ticket. Would some sun and sand help restore my sanity and push us through these last remnants of wintertime temps? Or would the exhaustion of airport security, endless lines and shuttling to and fro push me right over the edge and into a straightjacket?

It’s a debate I was having with some girlfriends – not all of whom were convinced we should even have an annual spring break. Fed up with overpriced travel packages and the off chance that they might run into unseasonably cold weather – or, worse, rowdy college kids – some moms would vote to forego the vacation week in favor of a few days off around Easter and earlier end-of-year dismissal. I can definitely see the benefit of never going to school in June. Part of me thinks that families who need a vacation should just take a vacation whenever it best suits their schedules, and their kids will just have to make up the missed classroom work, whether it’s March or May or the second week in November. It would potentially ease some of the jealousy of students who don’t come back to school with suntans and/or Mickey Mouse ears.

Another part of me, though, sympathizes with teacher families who can’t just take off on a whim. The school year is long and rigorous, and their personal time off is limited. Spring break, it was pointed out to me, is not only a time for teachers to reconnect with their own families and get a break from their students, it’s also an opportunity for students to get a break from one another. You don’t have to sit long in an elementary school desk to note that a change of scenery and a bit of distance could go a long way toward improving classroom morale. And following this year’s pervasive cold and flu outbreaks, a solid week to sanitize school surfaces and literally clear the air might be just what the doctor ordered.

Some smaller, rural districts don’t get a full week off for spring break, citing – among other reasons – difficulty for working parents to obtain childcare for those five days. My hometown, for instance, only has a short Easter break in the spring yet a full week off for Thanksgiving/deer season in the fall. That’s one tradition I probably wouldn’t mess with. But as I look to my calendar and see that my girls will be in class through the second week of June, I sigh and wonder … what is the ideal calendar for the school year anyway?

What are your thoughts on a weeklong spring break? Please share in the comments!

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