The Effects of the Added HCPSS Half Days

Edwin Wu

As of November 3, 2021, there has been a modification to the 2021-22 Howard County Public School System academic calendar. Monthly half-days have now been implemented to allow both students and teachers to have more time to complete their tasks and to improve their overall wellbeing. 

Centennial English Teacher Kelli McDonough believes that this will provide her with more time to complete her own tasks. 

“I am most excited about it as a club sponsor. It’s going to give me an opportunity to meet with some of my students for the club in a time when [those students] will not have other commitments,” said McDonough.  

McDonough believes that both students and teachers will benefit from this decision because it will allocate some time for students to catch up, get ahead in their school work, or even relax.

“It’s one thing right now where a lot of students are overwhelmed with what’s going on, and this would be helpful,” stated McDonough. 

A negative impact that this change may have is that some parents may have trouble with transportation due to being unable to coordinate work schedules or return home early to take care of their children.

“I think we all deserve to have a bit of a reprieve every now and then… so I think having even the three hours off would give people an opportunity to kind of step back from their work at that point to catch up on something or maybe even catch up on a Netflix show or something that they wanted to do, because at the end of the day, we are all still human,” McDonough shared. 

Similarly, Centennial world language teacher Stephen Doff agrees on the half-day implementation. He believes that he will be able to use this time for himself as a chance to “restart.”

“Everybody in the community has been under such duress, so I think giving folks an opportunity to remove themselves from their regular routine will give people the opportunity to refresh,” Doff mentioned. 

“I will be able to take some time for myself to take care of the things I need to [do] from a personal standpoint,” said Doff. “It gives me a nice break so that I have a pause to think about what I was doing and what I need to do.” 

Doff agrees that these breaks are relevant because during the 2020-21 school year, Wednesdays were asynchronous days where students had the opportunity to complete homework, prioritize top subjects, or get sleep with no scheduled classes. He thinks that these half-days will provide some continuity and provide a smoother transition back to the in-person environment. 

Sophomore Srinidhi Gadiyaram thinks that these half days will give her more time to plan for extracurricular activities and dedicate time to self-care. She does not believe that the new policy is perfect, however.

“The county called the extra half days mental health breaks for students as well, which is hypocritical in my eyes because of their implementations of midterms and finals again, especially during times of a pandemic,” Gadiyaram exclaimed. 

Sophomore, Sumedha Shastry, feels that with this time she will be able to prepare for the next school day and complete any pending assignments.

Going further, Shastry wants the board to give students Wednesdays off school entirely once a month to help alleviate some of the stress. During virtual learning, Wednesdays were an important time for students to disconnect from stressful situations. She finds that the greatest impacts will be shown on students’ mental health.

She stated, “I think these half-day breaks are relevant since they affect students directly and are posed by our SMOB delegate. They are affected by our opinions, so if there is anything wrong with the policy, we have a voice in it.”


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