WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Kenowa Hills Public Schools will begin the school year this week with a reduced number of half days on the school calendar.

“Half days can be a struggle for families,” Superintendent Gerald Hopkins said.

There will be just seven half days this school year. Last year, there were 13.

Hopkins says the decision was made after talking to the Kenowa Hills Education Association and Kenowa Hills Support Staff Association, which received feedback from family and staff.

“We know and looking at data that we have incredible daily attendance here, but our half days, our attendance drops a little bit. We know that that’s a result of the hardship it puts on families,” he said.

With the reduction in the number of half days, there will be extended breaks around some federal holidays.

There will be a fall break around Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 9.

Mid-winter break is scheduled around President’s Day on Monday, Feb. 19. In addition to the federal holiday, students will have that Friday and Tuesday off.

“It’s intense from beginning to end and our students and staff needed, we believe, a few more breaks,” Hopkins said. “We’ve extended those breaks for families that may want to just have some family time, perhaps travel.”

Hopkins added staff would benefit too. Their break will include a four-day weekend. Certified staff will have professional development on Tuesdays and off on Fridays and Mondays.

The support staff will have professional development on Friday and off Monday and Tuesday.

“We want to do what we can to accommodate their needs on those days. At the end of the day, we do have a responsibility. Our staff thirst for their own education and learning. We had already built in professional development days in the calendar, and this just helps us expand that for our staff.”

Also new this year, Kenowa Hills parents can keep track of where their kids are on the school bus in real-time if they download the 360 app.