Winter Break Shortened To Two Weeks

The recent decision by the school administration to shorten the winter break by a week while lengthening the summer break by a week was met amicably by families from lower grades, while raising controversy among families with students in the 11th and 12th grade. This decision was made in response to a school-wide poll that revealed a majority of families wishing to extend the period off of school during summer.  

Jeff Leppard explained that the idea of a shortened winter break first arose in the last school year when COVID-19 first became an issue for UNIS Hanoi. “The possibility of having a shortened winter break was anticipated last spring,” Leppard said.

The faculty considered whether families would prefer having longer winter breaks under lockdown conditions. “If people were in lockdown, they may not want three-week holidays,” Leppard said, recalling the rationale behind the initial consideration. 

As the 2020-21 school year began, the suggestion gained more traction as a couple more considerations came to the attention of the faculty. First, while UNIS had been granted the privilege of holding classes in person, this was not a certainty especially towards a consideration of the rest of the school year. As a result, the additional week of school “gave us more guaranteed face to face time and more time spent on campus,” Leppard said. 

Second, as more and more countries adopted two-week quarantine practices upon entry, lengthening the summer break became an attractive option that allowed families traveling back to their home countries or abroad more time to enjoy their vacations. “It was important to anticipate families who wanted to travel in the summer under quarantine conditions,” Leppard said. 

As a result of these concerns raised, the Head of School, Jane McGee, the Elementary School Principal, Megan Brazil, and Leppard sent out a poll to UNIS families. “We sought community feedback,” Leppard commented. “A very clear majority of families were in favor of shortening the break: the clear exception were the families of 12th graders.” 

With both the concerns raised and the results of the poll in mind, the three administrators made a decision through a “team approach,” as according to Leppard, where a vote was conducted. However, Leppard decided to meet with the 12th grade student body due to their clear opposition. “The senior class generally thought it was academically disruptive to have the cut to our winter break,” said Long Tran, the 12th grade president of the High School Senate. 

Leppard held a town hall discussion with the seniors to hear their opinions on the matter and their objections to a shorter winter break. “I met with the senior class [and] I thought about what will help our students the most in terms of learning and being prepared,” Leppard commented. Asa  result of the meeting, it was decided that seniors would be granted their regular winter break, with the third week being optional. “What was easy was that the week we were taking from the last week of school, seniors would not be in school for…. [the senior schedule] would be easy to compromise with,” Leppard said.