Edina’s new winter break policy is hurting, not helping students

Matthew Hovelsrud, staff writer

In the 2017-2018 school year, Edina students had a winter break from Dec. 23 to Jan. 7, a 16 day break. As students started the 2018-2019 school year, many students were surprised to find that this year’s winter break spans only 11 days, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1.

When students are given a longer break in the middle of the school year, they are able to relax and reduce stress from high anxiety school work. According to the American Psychology Association, “Teens report that their stress level during the school year far exceeds what they believe to be healthy (5.8 versus 3.9 on a 10-point scale) and tops adults’ average reported stress levels (5.8 for teens versus 5.1 for adults).”

Another advantage of having a longer break is that it gives students something to look forward to. Students are always thinking about their next long weekend or holiday break. This allows students’ morale to stay high and better process the length of the school year through intermittent breaks. When the longest break in the school year – outside of summer break –  gets shortened by nearly a full school week, students get upset, stressed, and end up losing the relaxation of break as they focus on the days they should be getting off.

An often overlooked reason for a long winter break is that time off is a time to see family and possibly require travel to do so. When breaks are shortened, students receive less time with family which they enjoy spending time with. For many students with family very far away, winter break is one of the few times they can spend time with their family. Because of this, many students may be forced to take extra school days off in order to get their necessary time with family. This can be hard for students because making up classwork, quizzes, tests, and projects puts a large strain on a student. This could be easily avoided by returning Edina’s winter break to its former length of 16 days

A longer break also allows students more time to do work, and often finish up a big class project or paper. Although teachers are instructed to not give homework over school breaks, many teachers are forced to assign work in order to complete their lesson plan in time. Just like students, teachers are forced to fit their lesson plans in the school year, which oftentimes this leads to assigning large projects and papers to be completed over break. Additionally, with finals two weeks after winter break, students are given a great opportunity to start the long and hard finals study process. When the break times are shortened, that takes away from students’ time to complete their homework or better study for finals. The result is an increased amount of stress as students worry about getting their work done, while they are supposed to be relaxing and de-stressing, as well as, possibly decreased finals scores as students have less time to study.

The school year is an extremely busy time for students balancing school work, activities, friends, family, and free time. Often times students cannot balance all of these successfully and as a result, they have to forfeit some of the things they love like spending time with their friends. Although a shorter winter break still allows students to spend time with friends, an extra five days can mean a tremendous amount to a stressed-out teenager.

With the new Edina calendar of a shorter winter break, students will be affected in all the above categories in numerous ways. Students, staff, and administration will see the negative effects of the decision to shorten the break time. Hopefully, the positives of the longer break will allow the old 16 day break to be reinstated next school year.