Returning to Normalcy


I know that the transition to a full-day hybrid schedule at the beginning of March came as a shock to many, including myself. But as school administrators put it, this was a step towards “normalcy,” and seemed like a reasonable change. But what does not seem reasonable is how these school days are used.
The transition at the beginning of the semester from a four-class schedule to a shorter, three-class schedule enabled the opportunity for in-person classes. I recognized that having fewer class periods over the second semester would compromise the education we received since teachers would be forced to either cut or cram content, but it felt like a fair trade for in person interaction and community.
But now that we’re back in school full-time, why do we still only have three classes per day? And why are those 95 minute classes more than double the length of our old 45 minute class periods?
At first glance, those extra 50 minutes could allow teachers to reintroduce content they had previously cut. But because teachers are advised to keep their online students no longer than 50 minutes, they don’t have this option, leaving at least 40 minutes of class time usually unused or just left for homework.
Students are being held in school for almost twice the time as before, but still learning the same amount as earlier this semester. Having less homework at night is great, but so is a shorter day of school, which lets students manage their time as they please.
The answer seems clear: a modified hybrid return to the four-block, 70-minute class schedule that we maintained prior to the pandemic.
While we wouldn’t be able to get around the 50-minute content cap, going back to four periods per day would allow teachers more time to cover more content over the semester, while also being a much larger step towards “normalcy.”
I know that school administrators are doing their best to look out for students’ wellbeing and are attempting to return the community to “normalcy,” and that this is a very difficult thing to get right during such a difficult period. But it feels like students’ time isn’t respected. We’re making unnecessary compromises to our education for such little gain through this new schedule.