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As New York City schools gear up for the weeklong winter break starting on Monday, some parents are already thinking ahead to days off later this year — and even next winter.

Typically, the new calendar isn’t out until the spring, but after a few years of delayed calendars and loud complaints, the Education Department released its calendars for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years early.

So, if you haven’t already marked it: the last day of school this year is Wednesday, June 26, 2024. The first day for the next school year is Thursday, Sept. 5.

Families were pleased to have the calendars for the upcoming years since many start their summer child care searches in January, and knowing the start of the school year is “part of the puzzle,” said Queens mom Tami M. Forman, who ran a nonprofit helping stay-at-home mothers return to work.

“For some families it helps to know for vacation planning,” said Forman, whose daughter is a junior at the Academy of American Studies and whose son attends a special education school with a different calendar. “But for the vast majority of NYC families, it’s really about planning care for the many weeks and days that kids aren’t in school but parents do need to work.”

As we head into the new year, here are some things to note about school breaks in 2024:

Midwinter recess, first spurred by 1970s oil crisis, carries on

As usual, New York City schools will close for the weeklong midwinter recess in February, starting with Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 19. And as usual, this break can be stressful for families struggling with child care.

Midwinter recess dates back to 1978, when the Board of Education decided to do it as an experiment to save energy, according to a New York Times article from that time (though at least one Brooklyn district defied the order and remained open). To make up for the lost instructional time, schools added some days to the start and end of the academic year.

The February break became codified in 1991 as part of a cost-cutting deal between the city’s Board of Education and the teachers union. The deal deferred paying wages to teachers as a way to avoid thousands of midyear layoffs, according to reports.

From its start, midwinter recess has been a thorn in the side of many families who have to make child care arrangements. Grumbling over the week off was especially loud during the 1993-94 school year, when classes started late because of an asbestos crisis and then remained open during a snow emergency.

April could be lean month for instruction

Don’t expect a lot of instructional time this April. There will nearly be as many days off (10, including Easter weekend) as days in school (13).

Under a new contract between the city and the teachers union, Easter Monday was added to make a four-day weekend, starting Friday, March 29. Spring break was stretched from five days off to seven to correspond to Passover, starting April 22. In between those two breaks, schools will be closed on Wednesday, April 10, for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.

But that’s not all: Much of the month for the city’s students in grades 3-8 will be filled with testing and most likely, test prep.

For those taking the state English language arts tests on paper, it will be administered right after Eid, on April 11-12. For those taking computer-based tests — which includes all fifth and eighth graders — the exams are being given April 9-24. (Paper-based tests for math will be May 7-8, and computer-based tests will be administered May 7-17.)

Next December’s calendar has a one-day school week ahead of break

While classrooms this Friday will likely be filled with sugar, movies, and perhaps a fair number of empty seats, the day before next year’s winter break could see even sparser attendance than usual.

Families planning ahead for next year’s holiday will be faced with a conundrum: what to do about Monday, Dec. 23, 2024. Schools will be open that day before closing the rest of the week, from Tuesday, Dec. 24 through Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2025. (And fun fact: The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah will overlap precisely with the period from Christmas through New Year’s.)

The past two times in recent years that Dec. 23 fell on a Monday — in 2013 and in 2019 — schools were closed for the entire week, but things have gotten tight as the city has added other holidays to the school calendar (like Diwali, which will be on Friday, Nov. 1) and still needs to meet the required 180-day minimum of instructional time.

For teachers who are looking for alternatives to showing movies just before the break, there’s an array of project-based learning suggestions, such as making video games or a podcast, that John Spencer, an education professor at Portland’s George Fox University and a former middle school teacher, shared on his website.

“This is a chance to make something meaningful — something that your students will remember forever,” he wrote.

Amy Zimmer is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat New York. Contact Amy at