Stop Monday Early Dismissals and Provide More Recess Time

This petition made change with 260 supporters!

Elementary schools in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) should end early Monday dismissals. Fairfax County is one of two counties with the shortest elementary school week in the Washington metropolitan area: 30 hours and 50 minutes.

The Virginia Standards of Accreditation state that the standard school day for students in grades 1 through 12 shall average at least 5 ½ hours, excluding breaks for meals and recess. With a half hour dedicated to lunch, FCPS elementary schools theoretically have only 10 minutes per day available for recess. Thankfully, the 10-minute recess is rarely enforced. However, this leaves students with less than the mandated amount of instructional time.

The elementary school schedule is too short. Fairfax prides itself on being a leader in American public education, but it is stuck in the past in clinging to such a short schedule for elementary schools. Students are sent home 2 ½ or 2 hours early every Monday. The students should be allowed to stay in school for at least 6 hours and 40 minutes every single day of the week.

There are a various strategies to provide planning time for teachers and opportunities for professional development without having a short day for students every week. Some of these options are currently being studied by an FCPS working group. 

The half-day Monday schedule places an economic and childcare burden on Fairfax County families. The safety of elementary school students can be adversely affected by the increased length of time some of them are home alone. Schools are for the students—let them stay in school on Monday afternoons rather than sending them home.

Fairfax County should expand the elementary school schedule to make it easier for schools to comply with the state requirements for the standard school day while at the same time officially ending the unrealistic 10-minute limit for recess. The Fairfax County School Board should end the policy of dismissing elementary school students 2 ½ or 2 hours early every Monday.  

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