Vacation. The word connotes relaxation, a change from regular routines, a pause and a sigh of relief. Whether it be a half day, a full day, a week, two weeks or the months of summer vacation, we as an editorial board all agree that once in awhile, everyone needs a break from school. When first semester finals were moved to before winter break, the student body thought it meant a true break. The new schedule was intended to not just give students a break from school, but also a break from schoolwork altogether for two weeks. Earlier this year, the proposal to not assign homework due immediately after break seemed to follow that vein of thought. However, we are worried that this proposal now seems to be a mere suggestion, with nothing actually restricting teachers from assigning homework.
We believe the proposal to have no homework assigned over winter break should be implemented as a policy, not just as a guideline. Students have earned a break, and the school board seems intent on giving us one, as evidenced by their decision with the schedule. The new schedule this year starts school a week earlier than normal, and shortens Thanksgiving break. This, in addition to the summer homework many AP classes had assigned, allows teachers ample time to shift their schedules forward. As a result, teachers should be able to stay on schedule for the May AP tests even with a two week period of no school work.
Furthermore, a true break would give us quality time to spend with family and friends. For many students, winter break is a time for family gatherings and celebration. Having homework over break detracts from this invaluable time. In addition, to our family members, having no homework means less excuses we can make to get out of karaoke or other embarrassing family traditions. So no homework ends up being a win-win for all.
Break provides a chance to relax and de-stress from the rigors of school. With rising stress levels in academics across the nation, it has become especially critical to provide this respite. An American Psychology Association survey found that teens reported a stress level of 5.8 on a 10-point scale, which is much higher than the healthy threshold of 3.9. At PHS, students have experienced a 0.5 hour increase in time spent on homework per day in the past two years, according to data from the 2014 and 2016 Challenge Success surveys. Assigning homework over break keeps students underwater in studies, forcing our minds to stay on academics, rather than truly resting and recuperating. This inherently raises stress, as people are forced to think about upcoming exams and assignments, rather than being truly free.
We applaud the administration for proposing this guideline and hope that it becomes a clear and followed policy. That way, as a school, we can finally give the word ‘break’ its meaning back.