Why wait until June? School year should end in May

No decision regarding school closures can be taken lightly, but in light of Governor Murphy's announcement, this is the best route to take.

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Phil Murphy/Twitter

On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy announced the closure of all New Jersey schools for the rest of the year.

With Governor Murphy announcing that all New Jersey schools will continue remote learning for the rest of the school year, another decision has to be made.

Should he permit New Jersey school districts to end the school year early?

Across the country, some districts have already gone this route, including Dover, NH and Washington, D.C. Dover announced that the last day of classes will be held on June 5, while D.C. will conclude the school year on May 29.

No, the school year should not end this week, or even in two weeks. But once the calendar turns to June, it is in New Jersey’s best interest to end the school year.

Eastern Regional High School’s last day of classes are June 17. By ending the year on May 29, students would lose two-and a-half weeks of remote learning. While the last few days of school are reserved for final exams, there will be no finals at Eastern this year. Without finals, students would only miss nine days of additional learning, from June 1-11.

With Eastern’s remote learning schedule, a May 29 end date means students would lose 4-5 lessons in each class, which does not even amount to a full unit.

Students are not able to receive the type of quality education regularly obtained while in school. Without face-to-face interaction with teachers, it becomes increasingly hard to understand concepts in subjects such as math or science. Even when a student reaches out to a teacher for help, the teacher might not understand or fully answer the student’s question over email or Google Classroom, for example. This is neither the student or teacher’s fault, but simply the challenges that remote learning brings.

Furthermore, summer vacation is the number one thought on students’ minds come June. With no in-class teachers to keep students focused, it is likely student attendance and assignment completion will decrease once June 1 arrives.

While classes would not take place after May 29, essential services should be left open. It is important to provide necessary resources for those who need them, such as free student lunches.

Many students are currently under a lot of stress, for obvious reasons. Trying to focus on schoolwork while not knowing what challenges tomorrow will bring can be a scary situation. A May 29 end date would “provide a longer summer to recharge and recover from the current demands placed on all families,” said Dover Superintendent William Harbron, following his announcement to end the school year on June 5. With warmer days ahead, students would have more time to go outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Families across the state have been hit hard financially, which can impact a student’s remote learning experience. While all students at Eastern are grateful enough to receive iPads, their homes may not have a strong wireless connection, making it hard to gain internet access during class time. Other students do not have a quiet workspace, making it challenging to complete assignments on-time.

Ending the school year at the end of May would also benefit teachers. Many teachers have young children that need to be supervised and taken care of during the remote school day. Struggling to juggle both their personal life and school life can be stressful; all while having to assist a class full of students in need of help/instruction.

At very least, with this year’s absence of final exams (and no snow days at Eastern), remote learning should end one week early.

I thank the teachers and administrators for their unwavering dedication to students during these challenging times. They too deserve an early summer vacation.