RooneyBy Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff

Spring Break.

A lot of our readers are just beginning their week off from school, starting with this holiday weekend.

Then, there are those, like my family, who had spring break in late March, and now have Friday off for Passover and Easter Weekend. The kids had a total of four days back in school.

Of course, others have Friday and Monday off.

And still others, such as our college babysitter, have neither Friday nor Monday off.

It’s all very illogical, in an Andy Rooney-type way, with the most egregious spring break scheduling occurring in our local district last year when the unexpected snow resulted in the chipping away at vacation days until students had neither spring nor a break.

The fact that spring break can occur anytime between February and April, with discrepancies even among neighboring towns, means working parents have a lot more than sunscreen to juggle this time of year.

Think, for a moment, about a teacher with one child in nursery school and another in elementary school. Depending on the districts, they may each have a different week off for break. Three different weeks.

Then, there are families with children at different independent schools, each of which gives two weeks off, but not the same two weeks. That’s four weeks—an entire month, essentially, in the middle of the academic year.

Planning a vacation or trip to the relative’s house is hard enough, but a welcomed problem to have compared with figuring out the logistics and cost of child care.

Why is there such a wide swing in the calendar dates?

Some parents enjoy the variation, saying their trips to Disney World or Washington, DC are less overwhelmed by fellow tourists And certainly school districts generally appreciate the autonomy to schedule their calendars to meet their specific needs.

But, it’s time to acknowledge the working family’s dilemma.

What we see garnering attention now, however, is the uproar over the coast of rescheduling breaks. The Dallas Independent School District established the dates for spring break last December, only to change them in June. Parents who had planned and booked travel shortly after the initial dates were announced were justifiably upset. When weather plays a role in last minute calendar changes, again, families express irritation and outrage. And the learning environment suffers on those days of apathetic attendance, when for whatever reason, large percentages of students have been pulled from school while others still attend.

It may make sense for our friends in Massachusetts to have their break aligned with Patriot’s Day. But, for those of us in the same community, we need to think about what it means to give working parents a break. It starts with getting on the same calendar page.


The  photo of a young Andy Rooney from the obit in the NYT. Click here:

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