Alpine District pauses decision to temporarily shorten school days

Jan 26, 2022, 6:50 PM | Updated: 7:19 pm

LEHI, Utah – Alpine School District apologized to parents on Wednesday for the confusion caused after the district quickly reversed course on a decision to shorten the school day by one hour for the next four weeks.

“The Board of Education has asked for a pause on last night’s decision of moving to a temporary shortened school day to allow further study and review of operational challenges, feedback, and logistics,” said a statement from the district.

For now, the district said that schools will continue with their normal schedules.

“The board will be considering metrics to address teacher fatigue,” the statement went on to say. “We want to make sure that decisions don’t increase teacher burden or negatively impact student learning.”

The shortened days would have been in effect from Jan. 31 to Feb. 25 for elementary, middle and high schools.

A district spokesperson said the motivation behind the proposed shorter days was also to address challenges with student absenteeism, staff shortages, and difficulty getting substitute teachers.

“We want to be sure that what we are doing is the best thing to be doing to address that teacher fatigue,” said David Stephenson, the district’s executive director of external relations and communications. “And the priority is to have our students in school, face-to-face, every day.”

Stephenson said one development that could help with staffing issues is that the district is in the process of processing about 200 new applications for substitute teachers.

One parent said she is happy the decision to temporarily shorten the school day was put on hold.

“For working parents or for parents that only have one parent in the household or kids that need their intervention time, I worry about that,” said Angelee Aedo.

Aedo, who is also a substitute teacher and elementary PTA president, said she doesn’t think the one hour a day will actually help teachers.

“I know they need a life raft. They need help,” she said of school teachers. “I just didn’t feel like this helped them. And two of my kids’ teachers were very upset about it last night.”

High school English teacher Rachel Billings said she understands the school board is trying to help.

“I think the majority of us are just tired and we feel like we’re doing more and not getting the pay or even the time that we need to be effective,” Billings said, who teaches at Skyridge High School in Lehi.

She also questioned if the abbreviated school day for four weeks would provide teachers with what they need

“I just hope that they really consider giving us more time as teachers,” Billings said. “We need more than just one hour a day.”

Alpine School District didn’t give a timeline for when a final decision would be made about the proposed shortened school days.

“We apologize for any confusion this has created for you and your student,” said a district email to parents on Wednesday afternoon. “The board will be considering additional solutions to address teacher fatigue and student absenteeism.”

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Alpine District pauses decision to temporarily shorten school days