The start of the school year is always rough. Between changes in classes, teachers, and workload, students tend to look forward to the three or four day weekends they receive in the first few months of school. This year, however has no days off between the last week of September and Thanksgiving.
Last year, when Governor Larry Hogan decided to change the start and end date of all Maryland public schools, people didn’t realize this would take away professional days. Not only was it the change in school dates that reduced days off but the days of some holidays such as the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, which fell on a Saturday this year, left students in school for a holiday they usually get off.
Having no days off between the last week of September and Thanksgiving might not seem to bad as students still get three half days, but when people realize how many there were last year, that’s when the difference becomes noticeable. Last year between the first day of school and Thanksgiving break students had six total days off and two half days compared to this year having only one day off and three half days in the same time frame. These numbers confuse students like freshman Brett Strauss who expected to have more days off entering his work-heavy years of high school. “I really was looking forward to days where there was no school since I have more work this year but they just aren’t there like they were past years,” Strauss said.
In the past few years the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have fallen on weekdays where students get school off. Since the holidays are based on the Lunar calendar they can come at any time in the fall months. This year they came on a Thursday and a Saturday. Students such as junior John Billingsley, who doesn’t celebrate the holidays, missed out on a day without school and are upset since the other days of school they usually get off aren’t there to replace days where they don’t have anything they have to do. “I know there is nothing we can do about the day the holiday comes on, but they could at least give us another day off since we already have so many less this year,” Billingsley said.
After Thanksgiving break the days students have off do compare better with the ones of last year. After the break students get four days off versus last year’s five days off (excluding winter and spring breaks). Even so, once everyone starts getting used to school it is easier to go without days off. “It’s great that we have more days off after Thanksgiving but I still would rather have more earlier like we did last year,” sophomore Ben Bloch said.
Next year the professional days will be taken away again because of the change in start times but Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah both fall on weekdays.