Some schools in Maine are adjusting their calendars and starting their Christmas vacation early this year. At the heart of this decision seems to be a recognition that both students and staff are experiencing a high level of burnout.

SAD 68 in Dover Foxcroft was scheduled to take its holiday break Wednesday, December 22. But after a special board meeting held last Monday, it was decided that the start date for vacation would be moved back, making the last day of school before break Friday, December 17.

Superintendent Stacy Shorey said there were a couple of things that went into the decision to move the date: Staff and students are exhausted. With Covid outbreaks keeping teachers and students in a perpetual cycle of trying to get caught up on work, Shorey said everyone needed some extra downtime. She also said that going to break earlier meant more time to do a deep clean of the schools, which seemed like a wise thing to do with the onset of the new omicron variant making its way to the states.

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According to the Piscataquis Observer, RSU 65 in Dexter made a similar call recently.

"In large part to reward faculty and staff for all their efforts for students and families during the pandemic, SAD 46 will start its holiday break several days earlier than originally scheduled. The last day of classes will now be Friday, Dec. 17,  instead of the half-day on Wednesday, Dec. 22. The school board approved the calendar change during a meeting held over Zoom on Dec. 1."

Students and staff at Penobscot Christian will do the same.

Parents of students at John Bapst Memorial High School received an email sent out by School Head David Armistead, December 3, with the same sentiment.

"It's safe to say that everyone is a bit tired. My interactions with students and staff over the past weeks tell me that everyone is ready for the holiday break. Therefore, as a gift to the students, faculty, and staff, we are adding one day to our December break."

While the plan was to get out Friday, December 17, the last day of school before the holiday break will actually be Thursday, December 16.

As far as the question of whether the schools will have to make up the time goes, many of them had a few extra days built into the calendar anyway, so there shouldn't be an issue. The Maine Department of Education Website says the school year must run 175 days. Most of the schools deciding to opt for earlier vacations had 178 on their calendar.

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