Rest and Relaxation

Parkway adds ‘mental health day’ to school calendar

Parkway is now giving students and teachers another 4-day weekend for rest and relaxation. 

Thursday, April 14 has now officially become a “mental health day” for both students and teachers. 

Originally scheduled as an early release before a 3-day weekend, Parkway School District has now made it an official day off school for mental health. 

Teachers, who originally had to work on the day off, are now able to enjoy their 4 day weekend the same as the students.

According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 high school students have reported having mental health issues as of 2019, 1 40% increase since 2009. 

According to the Education Resource Information Center, between 5 and 30% of teachers show symptoms of burnout.

This decision came after the announcements from other school districts and states about incorporating mental health days into the school year. In the last few years many states including Arizona, Maine, Nevada, and most recently, Illinois have allowed students to miss school for mental health issues without a doctor’s note.

I think that devoting a weekend to mental health is a great idea. With recent school years being messed up due to COVID-19, online learning, masks, in-person restrictions, students and teachers deserve to have a weekend off to focus on mental health.

Now that this decision has been made, it is up to the teachers to ensure that we can truly devote our weekend to our mental health. They shouldn’t be assigning homework or having tests or projects due when students get back, similar to the Kirkwood School District’s “no homework weekends.” I think teachers should also give themselves a break during this time. They shouldn’t be expected to spend time grading assignments or answering students’ emails. Both students and teachers should respect each other’s time off of school. The weekend should be a time to focus on anything but school. 

You might be thinking to yourself about what you should do on this extended break? I have a few suggestions. Do activities that are both relaxing and something you don’t usually have time for during the week. Take a walk, watch a movie, hang out with friends and family, spend time with your pet, do an art project, read a book are just a few of the things that will rest your mind over the four days.

Now some parents might say that students have already had enough time off already and that they’ll just spend that time goofing off. On those days, students still had to focus on school. I know many people, myself included, who had a quiz the day we got back from Thanksgiving break, and having finals after winter break meant that students couldn’t completely take time off from school.

It’s important that more school districts and states view mental health as a vital issue. The US Department of Health and Human Services says that 1 in 5 students suffer mental illness such as anxiety and depression due to school. With schools viewing mental health as a real problem, then they are moving towards creating a better learning environment. 

I’m not saying that Parkway should have extra long weekends all the time and teachers should never assign work, but they should continue having certain days put aside to focus on mental health. This is the best way to help students who are feeling stressed and anxious.

I understand that schools are here to teach, but they should prioritize students’ well-being as well. The better that students feel about school, then the better they will perform in classes and they will enjoy being at school much more.