AMHERST, MA — For the next week while students in Amherst’s public schools are on vacation, they can focus on celebrating the holidays with their families, pursuing their own interests and not worrying about getting school work done.
Michael Morris, interim superintendent, sent a letter to all parents and guardians Dec. 6 letting them know no homework would be assigned by teachers for the December break, a directive he issued following discussions with student leaders about how homework affects their well-being.
“Many of them have spoken about the stress, particularly as it relates to homework, particularly as it relates to the pace of what they do,” Morris said.
In his memo, Morris said students already complete a significant amount of work outside the school during the year, as well as participating in sports, music and other extracurricular activities. Even though no homework will be assigned during the vacation, the schools still maintain high expectations.
“For our students’ benefit, it is important that we recognize that the winter break is not only used for religious observances and holiday celebrations, but also as a brief reprieve from the continuous academic assignments of the school year,” Morris wrote.
So far, he said, the reaction to his directive from parents and teachers has been positive, despite it likely being unique in the region. Before he sent the memo he talked to other school districts that are striving to strike a balance between educating children and promoting the well-being of the whole child.