Taking a Break from School Breaks!

Ah, February. Valentines, presidents, midwinter. Life is predictable, normal, stable. Holidays are over, and it is time to settle down before the spring rush of activities.

Oh, wait. The presidents day holiday has turned into a full week’s vacation in some areas. Christmas break is followed by winter break, followed again by spring break.

For many students, teachers, and families, the February break is a welcome relief from the doldrums of winter. For others, it is yet another interruption, another chaotic calendar scramble. For those districts who deal routinely with snow day cancellations and delays, if the bulk of the snowy weather falls during the break, they are blessed. If there have been a lot of cancellations for snow prior to the February break, it can be just another interruption.

Spring break then follows – everyone is ready for that! Many districts schedule their spring break to accommodate the Easter or Passover holidays. Some just keep it the same week in March or April each year.

Because schools are under the control of local districts in the United States, the calendars are not uniform across the country, across states, or even across individual counties. Consequently, families with some children enrolled in a local school and some children enrolled in a public charter school or magnet school may have totally different schedules to accommodate. A winter break for some, but not for all. A spring break for one during Passover or Easter. A spring break for another after the Passover Easter observances. Families who have some children enrolled in public school and some in private school can expect discrepancies, but with increased choices for families in public education, coordinating local calendars becomes a concern.

Youth groups whose members may attend school in several local districts also find the coordination of calendars to be a challenge. In Bergen County, NJ, there are 79 school districts, including vocational technical and regional districts. Most districts will observe a winter break between February 20- 24. In April, some districts will take spring break the second week of April, others will take the third week. Some have Good Friday marked on their calendars as a holiday, others do not. Many of these discrepancies have to do with individual boards negotiating teacher contracts, and the use of facilities for activities.

When planning that family vacation, it’s a good idea to look at all the school calendars – don’t just assume they all follow the same plan!