The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the U.S.’s educational system to online learning, forcing schools’ administrations to rethink their bell schedules.
The introduction of new guidelines for distance learning in California left many schools scrambling to find a fitting schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. After months of rigorous planning, Carlmont High School constructed an apt schedule that allowed flexibility for students and teachers alike.
Principal Ralph Crame illustrated the decision making of the online schedule, as it had to be adaptable for both online and in-person learning.
“In the summertime, we [other administrators] were not sure if we were going to be in person, hybrid, or fully distance learning, so we had to create something that we could use in any scenario. The flexibility of this schedule was something that was important to give teachers enough time to connect with students and deliver curriculum,” Crame said.
The new schedule includes an asynchronous Wednesday, which allows teachers and administrators to have staff, collaboration, and department meetings. Additionally, it enables them to become more comfortable with Canvas, Zoom, and new technological applications that were not used before.
The Sequoia Union High School District gave teachers guidelines on how to account for participation and assign work during the asynchronous days, some of which have been modified. Erik Migdail, an English teacher, explained the constantly changing instructions for keeping track of student participation and attendance during Wednesday’s schedule.
“What we were first hearing is that we had to have a mechanism so that we could verify that students were logging into our class during the assigned 30-minute period. This made sense because part of school funding is reliant on student attendance, but since no one is attending physically, it made sense that we need to verify student’s engagement,” Migdail said.
Since the start of school, these requirements have been further defined as now teachers can evaluate students’ presence if they completed assignments throughout the week or complete the assignments assigned on Wednesday.
Despite some of the confusion surrounding attendance on the asynchronous day, many students have expressed their appreciation for it, saying it helps balance their workload. Junior Nadine Lahlouh explains how the Wednesday schedule gives her a break from constantly being on Zoom.
“Having no Zoom calls on Wednesdays allows me to catch up on homework and gives me a break from my screen. It also lets me destress from constantly being on camera all week long,” Lahlouh said.
If students at Carlmont High School were to return to in-person learning, the schedule would remain the same to keep consistency and to avoid reworking the master schedule.
“We want to keep the same schedule because if we go back to seven periods, we would have to recreate the master schedule. We are keeping with consistency and keeping an eight period day even if we come back to in-person learning,” Crame said.
Although some are optimistic about going back to school second semester, Migdail suggests that the school should remain online for everyone’s safety.
“The wisest course of action would really be for the administration to bite the bullet and do distance learning for this year so everyone can get a feel for it, make plans, solidify them, and do the best they can for everybody. That to me would be the better outcome, than operating in a climate of uncertainty,” Migdail said.
There are many different factors for the administration to consider over the next few months to determine the school’s best path for success. Regardless, the new schedule they have created for the school year is prepared to adapt to whatever happens.