ATHENS, Texas - It's the time of year most students dread, as they get ready to head back to school in the coming weeks, but students in Athens are looking forward to having Fridays off this school year.
The school board approved the district's proposal back in December, and the four-day instructional week will begin on Monday, August 5, their first day of the 2019-2020 school year.
This is part of a three-year pilot program, and the school district has put out a guide to their new four-day school week.
With Friday no longer being a school day, the district had to extend the school calendar. Last year, they started on Aug. 15 and ended the school year on May 23, while this school year is starting on Aug. 5 and going until May 28.
The school day for elementary students will start at 7:45 a.m. end at 3:55 p.m., with breakfast being served at 7:10 a.m. Middle schoolers will have their day start at 8 a.m., and end at 4:25 p.m. And for those in high school, their school day will be 8:10 a.m. to 4:35 p.m.
The district put a lot of time and effort into implementing this four-day school week, and sees it as the best way forward.
"The primary benefits include a school calendar that will serve as a major inducement for retaining and recruiting quality teachers and staff; and being able to designate more time to staff development and preparedness for educating our students," Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles said in a statement. "Achieving these two goals alone will have a lasting and significantly positive impact on the children we are committed to serving.
One of the biggest concerns from parents and teachers when this was announced was childcare on Fridays.
The district "determined it is not viable for the district to provide childcare on Fridays," and families would have to make accommodations like they do during school holidays and summer break.
One thing the district will be doing is offering free lunch for all students on Fridays. Lunch will be served from 11-11:30 a.m. on Fridays, at Central Athens Elementary.
The district also announced it will be offering snacks for students because the school days are being extended.
The school district will continue to take part in UIL athletics and events, and the district will continue to provide transportation for any event that is held on Friday.