School children in lots of New Jersey cities and towns return from spring recess Monday to makeshift classrooms in their homes. Some already did that last week.

But students in a few towns skipped the traditional week off altogether, once the novel coronavirus wrecked the regular patterns of the school calendar. With students stuck at home anyway, some districts pushed straight through break or at least shortened their time off.

Woodbridge schools got back to distance learning last Wednesday, three days early.

“If the school year ends early, we want to make sure that we have our students given the most instruction as possible,” said Superintendent Robert Zega. “And we feel that spring break is a time that we can really take advantage rather than stop instruction, a time when we can take advantage and kind of keep our momentum rolling.”

“The first couple of weeks of distance learning, there was a learning curve, they were many adjustments, and now we feel like we’re kind of in our groove, kind of in a routine,” he said. “We don’t want to stop that and not teach for five days.”

The district surveyed parents before deciding, and 76% were in favor of teaching through spring break. Manasquan found similar opinions before deciding to skip its spring recess, as 87% of parents – and similar amounts of staff – said to continue online learning instead.

That moves up the last day of school in Manasquan to June 12. Similarly, the last day of school in Woodbridge can move to the second week of June, depending on whether it adds unused snow days to Memorial Day weekend.

Students in Nutley didn’t take a traditional week-long spring recess but will instead get six four-day school weeks, as the off days were spread across five consecutive Mondays.

Schools Superintendent Julie Glazer said in a letter that the goal was “to try to relieve some of the pressures that will be our current reality for an extended time.”

“We hope that by shortening the instructional weeks to four days, students and staff, as well as parents, will be able to have some time to breathe,” Glazer said. “We’ve also considered that after three weeks of virtual learning, we have fallen into a routine of work and home that may be hard for some to re-engage after a full week away.”

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Most schools opted to keep spring break as scheduled.

“Working from home is challenging and tiring,” said Greater Egg Harbor Regional Superintendent John Keenan. “It is easy to encourage rest exercise and down time, but hard to make happen. We all could use a break.”

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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.