More than 20 school districts nationwide extend Thanksgiving break for teacher and student mental health days

More than 20 public school districts across the nation are extending their Thanksgiving breaks by several days to allow for mental health days for students and staff.

Districts in at least six different states including Missouri, Kansas, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Maryland have amended their schedules to include “wellness days” this school year.

Missouri’s Ladue School District is among at least a dozen districts in the St. Louis area that built in extra days of rest around the holiday.

“We were noticing a common theme and that was stress,” Ladue Superintendent Jim Wipke told CNN. “When you talk to (teachers) about ‘how can I help you?’ a lot of them said, ‘I just need some time, time to decompress.'”

St. Louis Public Schools announced its decision to extend the Thanksgiving break on its Facebook page last month.

“My hope is these extra couple of days will allow everyone to take a little extra time for themselves and their families. Family is, after all, much of what Thanksgiving is all about,” said St. Louis Superintendent of Schools Kelvin R. Adams, according to the district’s release.

Kansas City Public Schools is one of the multiple school districts in Kansas to add November 22 and 23 to the existing break to give students and staff the full week off.

“I hope this change will give everyone more time during a season where many of us look forward to reconnecting and recharging,” said Kansas City Public School Superintendent Mark Bedell in a statement.

One of the largest school districts in Florida, Brevard Public Schools, allocated two unused “hurricane days” to extend the holiday break, according to an official announcement on social media.

“While this is not something that’s been done before, we felt there was never a more appropriate time to show our appreciation and our recognition of efforts made each and every day across our district,” said Misty Belford, Chairwoman of the School Board of Brevard County.

Districts in Central Virginia and Chapel Hill-Carborro Schools in North Carolina have all extended their breaks by two days as well.

In Maryland, Baltimore County Public Schools added the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to their break citing the “tremendous efforts” of the BCPS staff as the reasoning in the statement from the district.

In addition, Detroit Public Schools announced Wednesday it will switch to remote learning for Fridays in December, in part due to the need for “mental health relief.”

The decision was made “after listening and reflecting on the concerns of school-based leaders, teachers, support staff, students, and families regarding the need for mental health relief, rising COVID cases, and time to more thoroughly clean schools,” said Superintendent Nikolai P. Vitti in a statement.

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