New bell schedule brings positive changes to online learning

The+new+distance+learning+schedule+for+WHS+that+includes+passing+time+between+classes.

Photo by whs.westfieldnjk12.org

The new distance learning schedule for WHS that includes passing time between classes.

Caroline Dwyer and Grace Sacco

As students and teachers were preparing for spring break, it was expected that there would be significant changes to the remote learning schedule after we returned from break, which brought uneasiness and stress, as we were all still adjusting to just our third week online. We feared that our schedule would extend the school day from 8 a.m. to around 3 p.m., which would resemble a typical school day.

The transition to remote learning had been difficult for us to get acclimated to, and just as we were settling into a routine with working at home and balancing the demands of the new workload, the possibility of a major change to the remote learning schedule was concerning.

However, we were relieved to learn that no major changes to the schedule were made, except for the addition of five minutes of “passing time” between classes. Although we liked the schedule beginning at 8 a.m. and ending at 12 p.m., it’s even more beneficial for us to have this gap in between classes, so there is an adequate amount of time to sign onto our next class. Classes now ending at 12:15 p.m. still gives us an ample amount of time in the afternoon to complete our assignments and continue with our pre-existing routines.

Our remote learning schedule differs greatly from other schools around us. For example, Oak Knoll School in Summit follows a remote learning schedule that resembles their normal in-school day. OKS follows their typical block schedule in which students have 4 classes a day each for 75 minutes. The premise of block scheduling is that classes meet fewer times a week for extended class periods, rather than meeting every day. Their work is assigned during the given class period allowing 75 minutes of work per class per day and 90 minutes of work allowed per AP class per day. 

Even though as seniors we would rather be in school together, it has been a refreshing change to be able to experience block scheduling for the first time. Block scheduling allows us more time to complete our assignments and focus on specific classes each day. It’s especially beneficial to have block scheduling at home because it allows us to reach out to peers and teachers if we need help in a specific class. 

Students speculated during spring break that the start time potentially could be moved back to 9 a.m. Although it sounds appealing to have an extra hour to sleep in the morning, we’d prefer to start at 8 a.m. in order to end classes earlier and have the afternoon to complete our work. Prior to remote learning, we were expected to be in class by 7:30 a.m., so we believe now being in class by 8 a.m is reasonable, along with the benefit of having more time in the afternoon for school work.

At the start of remote learning, we found ourselves overwhelmed with different standards for each class. However, as time progressed and students and teachers started to adapt to the online schedule, there has been much more structure and organization for the required assignments each week. For example, a recent change has been made that all teachers must either make assignments due at the beginning of the class period or on Friday at 5 p.m beginning the week of April 20. This change is very useful, as at first it was a bit confusing to juggle all of the different due dates and times for each specific teacher and now it will be much more uniform and consistent with all classes.

As students, it’s important to recognize that this change has also been difficult for our teachers, who were forced to learn how to teach online with a variety of platforms in a very short period of time. Although it’s easy for us to get frustrated with the workload or impatient with the adjustments of communicating with teachers online, we have to remember that remote learning reshapes the lives of everyone involved, and teachers are working hard to make this new style of learning successful.

The transition to remote learning was difficult at first, but now that we have created a structured routine shaped around the block schedule, it has become more manageable. We appreciate that no major changes were made to the original schedule to extend the school day and that we don’t have to make an even bigger adjustment to a new schedule. We are grateful how hard the administration and teachers have worked in the move to online learning and as students, we will continue to do our part to make the process efficient and smooth.