Two suburban school districts have canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday, giving students a longer Thanksgiving break, but leaving some parents to scramble and come up with last-minute child care arrangements.
Evanston/Skokie School District 65, which serves students in pre-K through eighth grades, previously announced it was cancelling classes, in part to give educators and support staff time to rest and focus on their mental health.
But in a letter to the school community, district leadership explained staff shortages also played a role.
Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton said the school doesn't have adequate staffing or substitute teacher coverage to "provide the necessary care or to support high quality learning..." during the period.
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Horton explained the district is aware the move "may put working families in a bind" and it attempted to connect with childcare providers and community partners, but they were unable to provide assistance because of their own staff shortages.
"My immediate reaction was shock, quite surprised, admittedly a little frustrated that I didn't have more notice," said Robert Greenbaum, whose 9-year-old son attends a district school.
The district isn't the only one making such a move.
Hinsdale Township High School District 86 last week announced the extension of its Thanksgiving break, saying it was cancelling classes Monday and Tuesday for students and employees "to rest, relax and recharge."
Hinsdale Township High School District 86 serves students in ninth through 12th grades and includes Hinsdale Central and South High Schools.
Mistie Psaledas, who has three daughters, including one who's a freshman at Hinsdale Central , said she thinks the change is "wonderful."
"She’s also an athlete, so there’s a lot of different pressures, so the fact that we can hang out... there’s no rush in the morning, we can stay in our PJs even though I’m working," the mother said.
While the abrupt schedule change may be frustrating at first, one psychologist calls it a "gift."
"...And so I would encourage people think about self-care, as I should be doing this and doing that. We should be taking things off our plate, resting and going slow, pausing and saying no," said Dr. Colleen Cira, founder of the Cira Center for Behavior Health.
Cira said to not pack more in, but instead use the time to talk to your children about stress.
"What we should be doing is modeling how to be flawed struggling human beings and showing them that’s okay normal, inevitable," she said.