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McALLEN — South Texas College’s board gave the greenlight to a four-and-a-half day workweek schedule that may become permanent if it proves successful.

Employees would still work a 40-hour week and student support services would not be impacted by the change, materials presented to the board said.

However, using different schedules with half-hour lunches or a schedule that would end at 6 p.m. would allow employees to leave at noon on Fridays.

“The modified work week schedule is a common practice in community colleges and is recognized as a cost reduction measure and an incentive for employees,” the materials said.

The idea of a four-and-a-half day workweek for the summer is also apparently popular with STC employees.

A survey conducted by the college found that 80% of employees who responded were interested in the schedule. Just 8% said they were uninterested, while 12% said they were neutral or that it would not be applicable to them.

Implementing the schedule year round was not quite as popular with the employees who replied, but a majority — 63% — indicated they would support the schedule all year over not doing it at all or just implementing it in some semesters.

Rose Benavidez, the board president, said the idea for the program was spurred by pandemic stresses endured by employees and more flexible ways of thinking in a post-coronavirus world.

“There’s a new level of stress and expectation on everyone working at colleges and higher ed institutions, and so we were trying to just find a way to give them a break to allow them to handle personal things so they get that extra time,” she said.

The main idea, Benavidez said, is to give employees that free Friday afternoon to use for personal tasks.

“What this will do for us is allow staff and faculty to have an opportunity to handle home things — because many of their children will be home for school, doctors’ appointments, things that they typically struggle to do during the week because of working a full day,” she said. “Our hope is that this provides them some time to be able to do that.”

The pilot schedule was slated to begin Monday and run through July 29. If it proves successful, STC President Ricardo Solis could recommend extending it.