Explanation of days off school


Holidays: here in Montgomery County, the school year is riddled with them. Whether it be for religious reasons or grading purposes, holidays from the normality of school’s daily routine provide a welcome opportunity for reclamation and reconciliation.
While the winter and spring breaks normally account for the majority of days off, days interspersed throughout the year add up to an equivalent amount. This year the MCPS schedule lists 13 week days as holidays from school, along with three early release days, while an extra 13 are squared away for winter and summer breaks.
Included under the umbrella of school holidays are the beloved winter and summer breaks, which account for 13 total days of holiday. Winter break encompasses the first six days, as the break officially begins on Dec. 26 and ends Jan. 3. While the difference is not drastic, the total number of days off allotted for winter break is smaller than in years passed. This is because Christmas falls on a Sunday. In direct comparison, last school year there were seven days off for winter break, one more day than this year.
Spring break works more favorably to the desires of students, granting seven days off from school. While winter break is blocked solidly in the second marking period, its spring counterpart marks the transition from the third to fourth quarters, causing it to have a professional day tacked on to the beginning of it. Because of the professional day, spring break officially begins on a Friday before trickling into the following week. The break starts on April 7 and students and faculty do not return until April 18. In the time between these dates Passover starts and Easter is celebrated.
While each marking period always has a minimum of one day off for students in the form of a professional day for quarter grades, the first quarter regularly has more days off than any other. Of the 13 non-break related weekdays listed as away from school holidays, five of them are attributed to the first marking period. This is a direct result of the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, along with Labor Day falling within the first marking period. The front-loaded surplus of days away from school can make it easier for students to re-adapt to the rigorous school environment before fully immersing themselves for the long haul of later marking periods. “I think it’s really helpful that we have so many days off at the beginning of the year because after a long summer break it can be hard to get back into the swing of things right away here at school,” junior Justin Slud said.
This year, the second quarter is just as generous as its predecessor, totaling an identical five days off. The uptick in days off in this quarter is partly because of this year’s presidential elections; it is federally mandated that all school systems nationwide give the day off on both Election Day and inauguration day, which are Nov. 8 and Jan. 20, respectively. Along with the days attributed to the election cycle, there are also days off for Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
From the the third quarter on, holiday horizons look bleak. The last two quarters combine for three days off of school excluding spring break. The only two holidays in this semester that warrant time away from school are President’s Day and Memorial Day, while the third day is a professional day sandwiched between the two quarters. “The second semester is really when the year goes into that final stretch where snow has stopped falling and the holidays have stopped popping up making the days off become few and far between. What makes it bearable is being able to see that light of summer at the end of the tunnel,” junior Julian Levine said.


Peter Hechler
news editor