Long term assignments demand work over winter break despite county policy

Winter break is a 12 day hiatus from school that lasts from Dec. 24 to Jan. 4. For students and staff alike, it is a chance to relax and rejuvenate without daily stressors.
While the break is a time to step away from school, long term deadlines for higher level courses make it difficult for students to avoid doing work.
“I’m a big believer that winter break should be free of school,” social studies teacher Dean Wood said. “I 100 percent think kids should not have to do a thing over winter break. However, unfortunately we give these long term assignments to kids, like the HI [Historical Investigation]. Technically, [kids] don’t have to [do work on the HI over break], but to get it done in a decent way, [they] probably kind of have to.”
Long term assignments affect the winter break workload in other subjects as well. Physics teacher Janet Kahn said the timing of science fair leads a good amount of students to feel the need to work on it over break, though it is not mandatory to do so.
“A student who is really on top of everything may have finished their science fair data collection before winter break,” Kahn said. “[They] certainly could have. But I think winter break is a nice opportunity for students who aren’t on top of everything to get things done.”
While having a break can be a chance for students to get ahead on assignments or catch up and alleviate pressure, looming projects can also be a source of stress, especially for students who are traveling over break.
“I went to Portugal and Spain,” junior Elizabeth Stern said. “I had [projects] to do, [but] I didn’t have the ability to work on them when I was away. I was definitely more stressed on my trip thinking about my assignments.”
Junior Grace Bir said winter break is an opportunity for her to complete work, but planning time for assignments is difficult amid her other family commitments during the holiday season.
“I think break is a good time to get some work done,” Bir said. “But the deadlines […] take away from having fun [and] spending time with family.”
Kahn said while students could work on science fair if they need to, she avoids assigning additional homework because she knows about their other commitments.
“I teach a variety of students from different circumstances,” Kahn said. “I have a lot of students who, when school is out, they work. I can’t send a student off who is working 60 hours a week for two weeks to do a lot of [home]work.”

by Sophie Tedesco