Some students in Florida are shifting to a 4-day school week

The school week is a little shorter for some students in Volusia County. When the bell rings at the end of the day on Thursday, the weekend officially begins.

Volusia County school board members recently approved amending the charter for Chiles Academy to allow the school to operate on a 4-day school week. 

The school serves teen mothers.  Principal Abby Ferguson says her students needed something different. 

"Students average about three days a week of attendance. On target for teen parents nationwide. Lots of things that interfere with attendance. Transportation. Work Schedules. Appointments for baby and mom," Ferguson, "Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to do work schedules, fill in more hours at jobs, take time for themselves, or go to appointments." 

Students now report Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes are about an hour long. 


"Actually meeting more instructional hours than in previous years," said Ferguson, "And attendance rates are up. First week, it's usually around 67%. We're at 70%." 

Education researchers have pointed to those pros as reasons any district or school should consider the switch. 

It's a growing trend. Research has found nearly 900 districts in the U.S. currently use a 4-day school week. That's up from 650 since 2020. Just last year, Hillsborough County Schools considered a short week to help with the teacher shortage. 

Back at Chiles Academy - Principal Ferguson acknowledges the cons. 

"If we were serving kindergarten through 8th graders, this would be a much different conversation. Would have younger kids not in a school on Friday," said Ferguson. 

The school does have childcare options for the teens who have to work on Friday, but senior Arnajah Oliver says she plans to use the extra time to focus on being a mom to her 1-year-old. 

"Before all of this, wouldn't be able to spend time with her," said Oliver, "Come from school and go to work. I would get home and she'd be laying down and asleep." 

The 4-day shift was a provisional change for this year. The principal says she is collecting data to see if it will continue next year and beyond.