The start of the 2022-2023 school year looked different for students and staff at Winters Independent School District with a new schedule.
The district implemented a four-day instructional week, a model several other schools in West Texas are looking to adapt.
“When we first started talking about it was about it was probably January of last year. And I got a committee to gather my teachers and things and I just kind of threw it out there," Winters ISD Superintendent Sean Leamon said.
"As a principal, former high school principal, I knew that the Fridays were pretty tough, especially during the springtime, because you've got so many kids that do everything in small schools."
This proposal was put in place to benefit the wellbeing of staff and students.
“We're trying to save the mental health and of our teachers and our students and give them just a little bit of break and take off a little bit of pressure,” Leamon said.
The decision had some parents on board and others not entirely convinced.
“I had a few angry ones that came to our board meeting when we were discussing it, and I think after the meeting was over and we had some lengthy discussions about it that, you know, everybody was like, okay, you know, we can do this,” Leamon said.
Compared to the previous year, 15 minutes were added before and after the instructional day. After several months in the works, the district has seen a significant impact.
“We've seen improved attendance both ends with students and teachers," Winters Elementary School Principal Marcy Huffman said.
"We've encouraged families and staff to schedule doctor's appointments or things that can be planned absences for Fridays where we're not missing instructional days. So that's been a plus. And that was one of the goals."
Fridays may look different but campuses in the district aren't entirely closed.
“We have our ACE program that works after school and on Fridays to offset that burden on families,” Huffman said.
Moving forward, the school board approved the calendar year for the 2023-2024 school year to keep the same four-day school week.