A middle school boy takes notes during a science lesson about the environment. Credit: Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages.

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, educators, and parents have been playing catch up. 

The recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report showed devastating declines in math and reading achievement levels. On top of that, schools nationwide continue to struggle with chronic absenteeism and staffing shortages.

So Paul Thompson, an associate professor of economics at Oregon State University, finds it odd that schools have started shifting to a four-day model as an effort to recruit and retain key personnel. It also goes against the other lesson we learned from the pandemic: numerous families rely on schools for valuable resources.

“There’s these big equity concerns about shifting the burden of what schools have traditionally done for students and parents and communities — providing child care, food provision, physical activity, all of those things — and are shifting away from the school district onto families and communities on that additional day,” Thompson says. “What the implications of that are is extremely important, as well.”

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