In response to social distancing requirements in schools, Kaiser has pioneered a new class schedule. The most notable change: A free Wednesday except for a 30 minute Kaiser Advisory Period (KAP) in the morning. Students weigh in on the new schedule.
Mental health benefits
By Dacee Tsue
Students now have four regular days of classes per week, as opposed to five, with a single KAP period from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. Generally, students prefer this new schedule over the old one, as it allows students to improve their mental health and gives them more time to catch up on their school work independently.
The current schedule basically offers a day off of school in the middle of the stressful school week. With only 30 minutes of instruction in the morning, students have time on Wednesdays to rest, get ahead on homework, or spend time outdoors —away from the computers they’ve been glued to—with family and friends. “It’s nice being able to go out with my friends during the day because I always have work after school and on the weekends,” senior Macy Hill said. Having a day to get out of the house and away from screens can help students mentally, physically, and socially. Even though students are annoyed by waking up at 8:00 a.m., it helps them get used to waking up at the same time every day. “It does feel pointless to wake up for half an hour so early in the morning, but I’d rather do that than have a whole school day that’ll follow,” senior Jodie Otani said.
Furthermore, following the new schedule gives students even days of school during the week. There isn’t any confusion in scheduling anymore because the week will always start with an A day and end with a B day. “It is hard sometimes to remember whether it is an A day or B day when there is a long weekend or even just a regular weekend,” Hill said. “With the new schedule, I now know that the week always starts with an A day, and I don’t have to bug my friends.”
“I actually would prefer this schedule for the rest of the school year,” Otani said. Having this schedule provides a lot of opportunities for students to better themselves and take a mental health day.
The effect on education
By Natalie Clay
Everyone seems to be enjoying the freedom of the Wednesday schedule to catch up on work. With more independence and extra student-teacher meeting opportunities, it seems the schedule has had a positive impact on student and teacher mentality.
“I feel as if I am learning more,” sophomore Danielle Molina-Pherigo said. “It allows me to have more time outside of class to work on things I need to get done…this way I can concentrate more on producing a better product.” In other words, free Wednesdays allow independent, focused work. “[The free Wednesday] allows me an extra day to make my own schedule, and figure out what I want to do and when,” Molina-Pherigo said. Other students also prefer to manage their own time. Sophomore Valo Sopoaga uses the free morning hours to complete schoolwork by her self-set noon “deadline,” which would be filled by class time if regular classes were in session.
AVID and U.S. History teacher Maryam Ayati found students to be “turning in more work,” she said. “They say it’s because they have more time on Wednesdays to do the work.” Teachers reported the Wednesday schedule to be especially helpful for arranging student-teacher meetings. “I have noticed a benefit for students and teachers to have that Wednesday to catch up…the number of students that I have been able to meet with and help get caught up during this time of distance learning has been an amazing help,” AP and IB teacher David Higa said. “The benefits of this new schedule outweigh whatever disadvantages it may provide.”
Although many have fond opinions about the new schedule, missing a full day of instruction may be negatively affecting students’ education quality. Teachers find it difficult to cover all the material they would in an ordinary school year, since they have less total class time.
Kaiser is a school that offers copious high-level, rigorous courses, and some of its classes have been significantly altered by the change in schedule. Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses generally have greater requirements than other classes, such as externally prescribed lesson plans, timelines, and instruction hours. Considering the fast pace of such courses, AP and IB teachers have struggled to keep up with the recommended curriculum. With less time to instruct each week, teachers―especially those who teach AP and IB classes―have had to adapt to the new schedule by teaching multiple, shallower lessons in one period or by assigning extra independent coursework, both of which impact students’ learning experience. “If I were being honest, I would say that there has been a drop in [student work] quality, but it’s to be expected in this type of educational environment,” Higa said.
Opinions on the schedule are somewhat mixed, but both teachers and students have found some benefits in the extra independent work/teacher-counseling time. “I do think students at Kaiser could benefit from having a day like Wednesday in a post-pandemic environment,” Ayati said. “That would be something cool to explore. Many students could benefit from the extra support or the chance to enrich their education.” But if students do not take the opportunities they are given—and instead use the free Wednesday as a day off—then their education will suffer for it.