Metro Atlanta schools, please fix Spring Break!

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Vacations are a critical bonding time for all families. But the importance increases for those with limited time with their children. Similarly, having consistent aligned school breaks matters for all families, but becomes much more critical in blended families. Children whose parents live apart may have step-siblings, half siblings or even full siblings enrolled in a different school system. For all blended families, vacation planning is complicated. But for some blended families, if school calendars aren’t aligned, a family vacation may become impossible. 

Misaligned school calendars are a real barrier for interstate kids. But within the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area, there are more than 40 school calendars in operation. Luckily, those 40+ calendars are somewhat similar because metro systems have coordinated metro calendar planning sessions. Particularly, most Atlanta metro systems have spring break the same week every year. Spring Break is virtually always the week following the first Sunday in April. As a native of Augusta, Georgia, I know it happens to be the same week as the Masters Tournament.

But a few years ago, when April began on a Monday, Cobb (and only Cobb) scheduled spring break on different days. They measured the first week in April from the Monday rather than the Sunday. The rest of the schools held spring break during the Masters as usual. I don’t know which members of Cobb and Decatur schools central office staff feel so passionately about how the calendar should be. I do know those two systems particularly have been willing to stick to their own logic for a different fall break, a different start date, and different winter breaks.

Once again in 2019, April begins on a Monday. Once again, Cobb begins their spring break on the first Monday in April rather than the first Sunday. But this time, most metro systems agreed with Cobb. This means schools in the traditional five metro counties are split on whether their spring break is the first full week of April measured from Sunday or from Monday. The systems currently schedule to take spring break April 1-5: Cobb, City of Marietta, Fulton, Dekalb Gwinnett and Clayton. The systems currently scheduled to take spring break the traditional Masters Week (April 8-12): Atlanta Public Schools and City of Decatur Schools.

 

To APS & Decatur: please modify your calendar to align spring break with the rest of metro!

To Cobb and Decatur: we understand the logic behind your aberrant September fall breaks. It makes sense to place the fall break equidistant between the start of school and Thanksgiving. It’s more logical than aligning to Columbus Day. But if can’t persuade other metro systems, please make alignment a bigger priority in your offices.

To all central office employees responsible for these calendars: please think about our blended families coordinating childcare and vacations across different school calendars. Children will have more memorable experiences during their breaks when school calendars are predictable, when school calendars align and when school calendars are released far in advance of the first day of school.

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