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North College Hill Schools will switch to a four-day week

Holly Yurchison

Starting next school year, students at North College Hill City Schools will be switching to a four-day week. The district approved the change earlier this week with the intention of reducing teacher burnout and giving educators an extra day to plan and maximize time inside the classroom.

The district will begin taking every Monday off when school resumes in August and Superintendent Eugene Blalock Jr. says he expects the change to have a positive impact on teacher morale, which is critical to student achievement.

"The most important thing in the classroom is that teacher," Blalock told WVXU. "If our teachers aren't 100%, if they're not the best version of themselves, then it's the students that suffer."

North College Hill is a smaller district with about 1,400 total students. Due to its size and resources, Blalock says the district had trouble hiring and retaining staff, so leaders at the school decided it was time to make a change to create a better environment for teachers.

The school system surveyed staff and the results showed that many wanted more time to provide effective instruction for students. After receiving positive feedback from the school community, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the four-day week.

Students may be asked to complete homework assignments on off days, but in-person and online classes will not take place. Extracurricular activities will still happen on Mondays. The change will not extend or affect school hours Tuesday through Friday.

Blalock says North College Hill is the first public school district in Ohio to implement the four-day week as part of its blended learning model, which incorporates remote learning and in-person classroom time in its curriculum.

While the shortened week has not yet gone into effect, Blalock says it's already having a positive effect on staff.

"I have a number of teachers that might have been leaving that have decided, 'You know what? I'm going to stay. I like what's going on in North College Hill,' " Blalock said. "We're excited about it."

As the first in the state, the superintendent says other school districts in the Cincinnati area and around the country will be watching to see how the district handles the four-day week. Blalock says many school leaders from other districts have already reached out to him to learn more about the decision. If it's successful, he anticipates that other school systems in a similar situation could follow their example.

"All eyes are on North College Hill," Blalock said. "They'll be watching and they want to learn from us."

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.