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An Ohio school district is moving to a 4-day school week to curb burnout for teachers

“I think that it’s a dying profession," Eugene Blalock says.
/ Source: TODAY

Many full-time employees have dreamed about a four-day work week, but what about a four-day school week? One superintendent in Ohio is ready to see how it goes — but his concern is not primarily the kids' burnout.

Superintendent Eugene Blalock is concerned for teachers.

"You walk through the buildings and you can just see it in our eyes how tired they are," Blalock, who oversees North College Hill City School District, tells TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager.

Jenna, who was a teacher before joining TODAY, can empathize.

"I know from my time in the classroom that it is not a 9-to-5. Teachers are spending hours in the afternoon planning (and) collaborating," she says. "It is all-consuming."

Blalock agrees.

"Teachers are spending hours in the afternoon planning (and) collaborating," Jenna, a former teacher herself, says. "It is all-consuming."
"Teachers are spending hours in the afternoon planning (and) collaborating," Jenna, a former teacher herself, says. "It is all-consuming."Courtesy of Jenna Bush Hager

"If teachers don’t have ample time to do that, then they struggle, and it’s almost like being on a hamster wheel; you just keep going going going and you never get a chance to get off and take a breath," he says. "I think that it’s a dying profession."

But Blalock says the issue goes beyond teaching in the classroom.

"Teachers didn’t sign up to be police officers and security guards," he says. "Those are all things that play on the stress level."

For this reason, he has switched his entire district to a four-day school week. Students attend school Tuesday through Friday and Mondays are for self-guided work at home. Teachers spend Mondays student-free at school to catch up on lesson planning.

"If we really dig deep, this is about student achievement," Blalock says. "If our teachers aren’t 100%, our students won’t get what they truly need and deserve."

The new schedule will start in August, with provisions being made to help parents with childcare needs.

"I was so happy, I was like, 'Yes, this is what we need'," student Heaven Champion says of the new schedule. "It gives students more time to breathe, relax (and) kind of take a mental break."

North College Hill City Schools isn’t alone. More than 850 school districts nationwide now operate on a four-day school schedule. While some argue kids need more time in school to make up for educational time lost in the pandemic, others believe the new plan is the right equation for both teachers and students.

"I think we’ve reinvigorated the teachers, reenergize the teachers, they’re 100% on board," Blalock says. "It might change the game completely."