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PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pasco County School District in Florida is introducing a new approach to the school calendar in the 2024-25 school year to combat chronic absenteeism.
The new schedule will include several “four-day mini breaks strategically placed throughout the years,” the district said.
The extended weekends will be held from October 12-15, 2024, February 14-17, 2025, and April 18-21, 2025.
The school district hopes the added breaks will encourage families to take trips or schedule appointments during these days, to boost attendance during scheduled contact days.
“This forward-thinking initiative not only benefits students but also accommodates the needs of parents and guardians who often struggle to coordinate family vacations with the academic calendar,” the district added.
Pasco County Schools listed five benefits of the new schedule including improved student engagement, tackling chronic absenteeism, empowering parents and guardians, increased classroom instructional hours, and strengthening family bonds.
The district said they hope the more frequent, shorter breaks with foster a harmonious balance between education and family life.
The rise in absenteeism is a side effect from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Thomas Kane, Faculty Director of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.
“Absenteeism is way up relative to where it was in 2019. I think that is getting in the way of academic catch up, because on any given day five percent of students are missing then the next day they come back and a different five percent of kids are out,” Kane said. “You can think of what that does to a teachers ability to keep everybody moving at the same pace.”