Editorial Board argues for alternative schedule to help students, staff

It’s 8 o’clock in the morning on a Monday.

Students and teachers across D202 have logged in – their laptops open as Zoom calls begin.

They hop from class to class every 38 minutes and continue until one in the afternoon. 

Homework ensues, along with office hours and club meetings. For some, the work will last until the small hours of the night.





Does this sound meaningful? Does it sound rushed? Exhausting? 

Students at D202 know this never-ending feeling all too well. The schedule must change. 

School officials should encourage synchronous classes three times a week (with 55-minute class periods) and reserve two days a week for asynchronous activities.

The current structure is simply not working out for many students – even short breaks aren’t cutting it anymore.

In a recent poll conducted by East Side News, 96.5% (550) of 570 students surveyed said having the usual five-day break instead of the current three-day Thanksgiving break would have been more beneficial. 

Many students noted the stresses of e-learning in the anonymous poll.

One East student said, “We need a break from screens. Our heads hurt; our eyes are strained; we are losing motivation. Five days is just two more than three to rest and focus on bettering our mental and physical health which is very much needed especially at this time.” 

Other students brought up the circumstances of these unprecedented times. 

“Having the usual five days days off [would] help my family a lot. We currently tested positive for COVID-19, and my dad is in the hospital away from home. Having these five days will give me more time with him when he gets back home and [time to] be able to take care of him and my mom,” an East student said in response to the poll.

The student continued, “My brother is currently a freshman in high school, and the change to online learning has affected him, along with having my dad being gone and my mom being sick. Five days off would give him the time to catch up on any school work he is missing, and the time he needs to relax.” 

How can one expect students to cope with a rocky political climate, a deadly virus, and the pressure of daily Zoom classes simultaneously? 

If students had the opportunity to go to class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with 55-minute class periods (20 hours a week synchronous), students might feel less rushed. They can take a moment to breathe. 

Fifty five minutes, even just three times a week, seems like a luxury compared to only 38 minutes currently allocated for each class period. 

Although it would be less class time in total (25 minutes less per week), the longer class periods would go a long way to make sure students actually have the time they need to take in the material, make sure teachers are not rushed in their lesson plans, and ask questions when they have them, not wait until office hours.

Additionally, kids should not be expected to stare at a screen for 25 hours a week for Zoom classes alone, that does not include the hours needed to complete assignments on the computer. School should not feel like working overtime in a full time job.

Students are in a constant school atmosphere, most likely all in the same room for many hours of the day. Home should not feel more like school than it does home.

With asynchronous days, students can work independently on their own schedule. Why not give students time to read actual, physical books and get a break from the screen for a bit? Or how about taking the time to write independently, perhaps in a notebook or a journal.

Having the opportunity to reflect personally on stressful situations could give students the time to process and cope with the ever-changing world around them.

And it is OK to let students and teachers take a moment to breathe once in a while, especially when it is all too easy to break down and lose focus.

 Students, teachers, parents, and district officials would like to see students succeed and manage the current virtual situation effectively. Giving students the time to balance Zoom call time with quietly listening to their own thoughts and ideas about the world, the curriculum, and everything in between could go a long way toward success. 

Students should not have to feel more isolated from than connected to the world after a day of school; taking the time to actually think, process, and consider the material and lessons presented to them has the possibility to make a huge impact. 

It is not about taking time off.

It is about using time in a more effective way. 

Students need time to recharge. 

Give students a break. Please.

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