It’s undeniable that the pandemic has irrevocably changed the way we experience life. COVID-19 greatly decreased the pace of our daily lives and increased the flexibility of those around us. As such, although KO may be attempting to shift back to our pre-pandemic “normal,” the community isn’t quite ready to accept such changes after the events of the past two years. In particular, the transition back to our old schedule is causing students and teachers alike to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
First, we’d like to acknowledge certain structural aspects of the schedule that do support students. Half-day Wednesdays allow teams to engage in competition and still arrive home at a reasonable hour, leaving them time to complete homework or prepare for assessments. We also have late start Thursdays, which gives students an extra hour to rest and affirms arguments that the natural sleep cycle of teens leans towards later hours of the night and the morning.
However, there are still some areas that could be improved. First and foremost, we believe that there needs to be more transparent communication regarding changes in the schedule. The administration hasn’t surveyed the student body nor the faculty about what adjustments would be most beneficial, and there’s been no clear reasoning expressed regarding the decisions that have been made. For the most effective changes, we believe that the administration should consult a group of students across forms as well as faculty from different departments. This would provide a wide range of opinions and experiences to consider, and help the modifications to positively affect our entire community.
In addition, many students have been feeling overworked because of the lack of free time built into this schedule. A part of the “pandemic normal” that we had all become accustomed to the past two years is the shortened sports practices, fewer club meetings, and most importantly, greater flexibility from our teachers with due dates and assessments. We believe that we need to carve out more free space in the schedule where students can do valuable things such as receive extra help from teachers, meet with clubs, or even socialize with friends.
COVID-19 gave us a very unique opportunity to transform the schedule, and instead of capitalizing on this, we chose to go back to what was easy, even though there were complaints in prior years as well. If there’s any worry about changing the schedule in the middle of the year, last year set the precedent that this is doable. We transitioned from synchronous, to asynchronous, to remote Wednesdays in the middle of the school year; students and faculty took these changes in stride. Although last year’s schedule was by no means perfect, there were some issues it addressed, such as greater passing time between classes and more free time throughout the day to decompress.