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Last week of school comes with challenges, rewards

Deseret News


Deseret News

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — School is out for more of Utah’s districts Friday. For some parents, these days of celebrations and class parties seems like a wasted week in school. But others say it is a needed transition time into the summer.

There are field days, field trips, movies, games, and water days.

After the grind of SAGE testing and evaluations and stress of performances, kids are ready to let loose.

But Utah state law mandates 181 days of instruction.

“We dropped off my daughter to get her yearbook, and saw the kids in line and my husband said, ‘So this counts as a day of school?’ Yup, this counts as a day of school,” said Davis district parent LeAnn Wood.

Her 6th grader has had field days and assemblies all week, so she knows the end of the year comes with challenges and rewards

“Finally they get hands-on experience, the weather is warm, field day is an opportunity to be out,” and parents are taking the kids around so teachers can finish up grades by the deadline or pack up classrooms if needed, said Wood.

Wood has helped volunteer at end of year parties for years for her five children. Now she’s the Utah PTA education commissioner

Heidi Matthews comes from the perspective of a teacher with decades in the classroom

“I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions about what happens in schools in the last week,” she said.

She is now the president of the Utah Education Association.

“Trust your teachers to know that most of them are really making the most out of this last week of school. It’s very deliberate. The fun and games are with a purpose that is an important transition and reflection time for our students,” said Matthews.

The state assistant superintendent for student achievement, Patty Norman, say sometimes people feel there should be instruction from bell to bell. But these activities are learning opportunities, too.

Norman says these days at the end of the year have a lasting impact. Students are learning speaking, listening and socializing skills. And performances and programs help students get the chance to be recognized and celebrate their success.

“You only have one last week of school when in 3rd grade,” said Matthews.

And Wood says as a parent, she now recognizes that this week is an important transition time for students for them to ease into the summer, and also so they look forward to coming back in the fall.

“You have to have a transition, it doesn’t matter if you end in June or May, you are always going to have a last week,” said Wood.