ST. REGIS — Schools are still trying to figure out what this year is going to look like with the start of the academic year just a couple of weeks away. Bit the St. Regis School District is tackling this issue and another one that hasn’t been talked about very much.
Entering into another year with COVID-19 teachers are preparing to make more adjustments to accommodate students. However, the St. Regis School District is considering a change to benefit teachers.
Charlee Thompson, a mom, and St. Regis School District Board chair, acknowledges that our world has changed -- not for worse or better, just different. So when the school administration brought up a four-day school week to her, she decided to entertain it.
“Because it's not the same, the world is different," Thompson told MTN News. "And we have to meet our staff, where they are, and if a four-day school week helps. We're okay with that.”
A lot of the teachers at St. Regis are commuters from Missoula, Superior, and Thompson Falls. Because of teacher shortages across the nation -- and the mental health of teachers -- a four-day school week is one solution to help combat these rising issues.
“Teachers are overwhelmed. They are working a lot. They're not just coming to work and working a nine to five job, they're taking it home with them,” said Thompson.
Not every parent in the district is on board, but a majority are. According to a survey the district sent out, 60 students, teachers, parents, and community members responded with 85% in favor of a four-day school week.
Those not in favor have good points Thompson says, which include kids going without a meal, not having a safe place to come to, and childcare. But a majority of the people who are arguing for these points, don’t use them.
“Study tables or breakfasts and lunches, people don't show, and that's a real waste of resources because we still have to pay the people to sit there we stopped to pay for the food that gets made,” said Thompson.
Since 2005, under the state of Montana education laws, switching to a four-day school week is possible and over 170 schools have moved to shortened school week, spanning from Flathead to Missoula to Ravalli County.
“But our board's job is to decide how it affects all of the students and staff in the building. If you have a happy staff, they're happy kids.” - St. Regis School District Board Chair Charlee Thompson
Thompson did say that if you would have asked her this question pre-pandemic, she would have said no way, but another example of how our world has changed.
No decisions have been made yet, but the school district will hold a meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m. where the idea of a four-day school week will be discussed further.