The beginning of the second semester brings a clean slate of sorts for the remainder of the school year and the start of the longest quarter yet. Coming back from Winter Break, two shortened weeks immediately follow. Although this does help in adjusting back to the school schedule, it can make the long stretch of the third quarter feel even more intense.
The second semester can be a trying time for students of all classes. Exams for AICE and AP classes as well as class finals begin to approach, which often increases the workload and needed study for core classes, especially with more rigorous courses. This places stress especially heavy on sophomores and juniors, the years when most students elect to take the most difficult and important classes they plan on taking.
For seniors, this is coupled with the often inevitable senioritis phenomenon when graduation is looming on the horizon and focusing on schoolwork can be more difficult than usual, even for excellent students. Also, many seniors are already set with their post-college plans or are currently finalizing the often hectic college admissions process.
Although Spring Break does allow for a quick hiatus before the final stretch of the year, both third and fourth quarters are composed almost entirely of full five day weeks. For the last two quarters of the year, almost six months, there are only 4 days off not connected to Spring Break.
One thing that makes the return to school from Winter Break odd is the continuation of the second quarter. Although students have already taken their midterms, and most if not all assignments have been past due since before Winter Break, the second quarter stretches on until the 12 in a limbo period. This can make the oncoming work from the start of the 3rd quarter feel sudden and overwhelming.
Falling behind at the beginning of a quarter can be highly stressful as it takes extra work to boost and maintain good grades for the rest of the quarter. More days in school means more work making that process especially tough in the second half of the year.
A similar thing happens in between the third and fourth quarter. While work is not really supposed to be assigned during Spring Break, many teachers arrange for their end of year projects to intersect with Spring Break to give their students ample time. However, projects can be quite intensive and Spring Break is much less of a break as a result. Especially since a project can end up being worth quite a large percentage of a student’s third quarter grade.
At any rate, the third quarter continues past Spring Break and students have only limited time to try and improve their grades when most work for the quarter has already been done by the time Spring Break is over. Then the fourth quarter starts and brings more work and test preparations.
Because of the long hiatus from regular school caused by COVID-19, students have been receiving less time off. For example, during midterm week, instead of the usual “super-testing days” where dismissal was at 11:40, the testing days were extended artificially until 2:40. A process that resulted in many students sitting in the auditorium for hours with little to do.
Although wanting for more days off during school may appear lazy, the truth is that days off allow time for students to catch up. If a student is missing or struggling with their assignments, a day off can give them the chance they need to cram without having to worry about new assignments cropping up from another school day.
So as students buckle down for another long semester, perhaps it’s worth considering adding a few days off to the next slog of the Spring.