A small district outside Cincinnati, Ohio, has decided that it will switch to a “blended learning” schedule next fall, meaning that students will have in-person instruction only four days a week.
On Monday, the board of education voted unanimously to implement a four-day school week in North College Hill schools, beginning in August. Superintendent Eugene Blalock claimed the district, which has roughly 1,400 students, made the move to alleviate teacher burnout.
“Teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates,” Blalock explained, “and the idea of being able to have some time some quality time, dedicated time, to just get some collaboration, some planning, is something that is intriguing to the teachers, and it actually has excited and re-ignited my teachers.”
He even asserted that the move “could be a model that could save the profession of education.”
Third-grade teacher Raven Jackson seemed to agree. “We are all worn out,” Jackson said. “Like, the kids are even worn out.”
The plan is to have students attend school in person Tuesday through Friday, leaving Mondays for at-home work. Though teachers will still be in school on Mondays as well, they will not be providing virtual instruction made popular during the COVID-related government shutdown. Instead, they will use that time to plan and collaborate with colleagues, much like they might do during designated professional development days, while students complete assignments on their own.
Jackson also noted that teachers could use time on Monday to attend to personal matters, such as medical and dental appointments, without having to find a sub. “I think having that Monday for those set times and set appointments would definitely help out,” Jackson said.
While teachers may appreciate the added opportunity to take care of private concerns without taking time off of work, district officials are aware that the new “blended learning” schedule may place an added burden on parents, who may not have Mondays off. Limited child care and school lunches will be available for needy families.
Blalock also insisted that the scheduling change was not made for financial reasons but to provide support and mental wellness to staff in the “trauma-sensitive school district.”
“It was not about saving money. It was more about saving teachers and saving the profession and doing something different to help students,” he said. “Time trumped money.”
Plus, Blalock added, older students could use the time on Mondays to participate in internships and other job-related activities that could help them prepare for the future.
“We don’t need more hours in school,” Blalock said last November, “we need to do school differently within those hours.”
The following is one of many “super workouts” Blalock has posted on Twitter:
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