Calendar changes hurt student interests

The new addition of two mental health days for students stirs up important conversations


Isabella del Nido

. On January 27, AISD released an update to the 2022 school calendar, giving students and teachers two days off on February 11 and March 4.


It’s a Friday in May after a long week. You’re mentally and physically exhausted from multiple tests and countless hours of studying this week. You wish that you could get out of school a few hours early today, but don’t want to get an unexcused absence that could jeopardize your incentives. AISD decided in January that they were going to give everyone “mental health” days in February and March, so there’s nothing you can do now. It’s just grinding through the end even if it means feeling awful.

Due to an update to the AISD calendar, this is an issue many students will face in a few months. On January 27, AISD released an update to the 2022 school calendar, giving students and teachers two days off on February 11 and March 4.

This choice was between either two full days off or Friday early releases throughout the semester. After hearing from over 20,000 responses on an AISD-led survey, the board came to the conclusion that the option for two full days would serve a better purpose.

For students who can’t drive to school, the board decided, two full days off were more beneficial than the early releases because parents didn’t need to get off of work to pick them up. However, for high school students, this decision is counterproductive regarding the actual mental health help they need to succeed in their classes.

The Dispatch leadership team hears these complaints, and is concerned about the effectiveness of this decision. We believe that more early releases from school would allow for more efficient break times than two full days off.

The two days off allow more time to sleep in, but do not reflect the wants of the students to have more frequent, although shorter, breaks. According to an article by KXAN, 90% of survey respondents favored the early releases. Furthermore, nearly 40% of respondents that answered this survey were students in AISD, which is more engagement in a survey than AISD has ever gotten. It’s clear that students feel passionately about the outcome of this decision.

As the Dispatch leadership team is all seniors, we are aware that the need for mental health days sometimes comes up spontaneously. We believe that it is difficult for the district to claim that they know which days we will need a mental health day months in advance.

AP tests, STAAR tests, and other final exams occur throughout May and towards the end of the school year. For this reason, it would make more sense to schedule days off in the months of April and May to allow students to prepare and relax during this hectic time. The current days, February 11 and March 4, are at times when students likely will not be facing as many burdens. Just two weeks before a week-long spring break, the March 4 date is especially futile.

Although the early releases are more beneficial to students, the two paid days off for teachers allows them to have a deserved day off without worrying about not being able to support their family by missing days of school.

There are other ways to effectively give students and staff mental health days. The option for early releases was proven through the survey to be the option students value more. In the future, administrators should make a conscious effort to speak to specific students to get their input on potential mental health days. In addition to surveys, AISD could hold a meeting specifically for students to voice their opinions and concerns before they make an informed decision.

The Dispatch Leadership team stands by the desires of the student body to have more efficient mental health breaks, which we believe nine early release days would have achieved.