The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Fairfax needs to keep children in school five days a week

The Fairfax County Public Schools building in Merrifield, Va. (Matthew Barakat/AP)

In January, The Post reported that the Fairfax County Public Schools system (FCPS) was adopting a new school calendar to recognize additional religious holidays. Though this change was welcomed, the additional holidays in combination with other student holidays has significantly reduced the number of five-day school weeks. This is becoming a noteworthy problem as research has demonstrated that learning is consolidated through consistency.

The scarcity of the five-day school week is negatively affecting children, especially younger ones who are beginning to develop basic skills and disadvantaged students. FCPS is surveying parents on adding more student holidays to the calendar — to be used for professional development. Should FCPS include additional student holidays, educational inequities will increase within the school system, and private school will become more attractive for families with resources to afford other options.

FCPS needs to return to a consistent five-day instructional week without lengthening the school year. FCPS should end countywide professional development days for teachers that occur during the school year, shift development to the summer and pay teachers for their additional work.

Paul Winfree, Fairfax