RSD Approves Changes to Second Semester Schedules


Media by Zara Tola

LHS Principal Dr. Calcaterra spoke alongside MHS Principal Dr. Steve Hankins at a RSD Board of Education (BOE) meeting Oct. 22. Dr. Hankins said the MHS administration has prepared for various large-scale issues that could arise in the school and community due to the pandemic in 2021. “Hopefully, we have all our bases covered, but I am also realistic and something new might pop up that we have to address, Dr. Hankins said.

The administration released information Friday, Dec. 11, concerning changes to the academic schedule for the 2020-2021 school year. 

First semester will conclude Thursday, Jan. 14, allowing teachers to prepare for second semester to begin Tuesday, Jan. 19. Students, whether learning virtually or in-person, will return to a  seven course schedule and attend four classes daily in a rotating B and C day schedule until Thursday, June 3. 

In the event MHS or RSD are advised to temporarily suspend in-person attendance due to COVID-19, MHS would follow the B-C schedule virtually and consider building in more virtual days into the semester schedule.

Principal Dr. Steve Hankins said the semester system could pose advantages for employed students and those enrolled in Senior Incentive as school ends at the same time everyday. Also, teachers may be able to slow the pace of instruction, better aid students and have more time for reassessments. 

“One of the consequences we saw from the quarter schedule is if you are sick, it is a lot harder to get caught up in the quarter schedule,” Dr. Hankins said. “Now that we have been in this model for a whole semester, a lot of the technology is figured out, so it makes sense to go back to the semester model.”

The second semester schedule will continue using a concurrent teaching model, combining asynchronous learning online and live class instruction. 

In the 2021-2022 academic year, virtual classes will be asynchronous with fewer courses offered.

Dr. Hankins said the goal for the educational plan is students who choose virtual learning will not be able to switch back before Spring Break starts Monday, March 22, and the same applies after the break. In-person students will be allowed to opt for virtual classes anytime in the year.

AP students will have the third and the majority of the fourth quarter to attend their classes, he said, which should provide educators more time to teach material to their 1st or 2nd quarter students.

Dr. Hankins said although the COVID-19 infection rates are too high, for instance, to implement Flex Time, he hopes a coronavirus vaccine will allow more students to come back in-person in the spring and return to a sense of normalcy in the fall. 

In-person students have more of an advantage of communicating with teachers one-on-one more than online people.”

— Aditi Srinivasan, junior

Aditi Srinivasan, junior, said, she is concerned about students’ workload and stress increasing due to the transition from three to seven courses a day. She is enrolled in AP courses and prefers spreading out her classes in the quarter schedule.

She said students like herself taking AP classes and participating in extracurricular activities or working after school may need more assistance with material. Srinivasan said it is important to consider alternatives to Flex Time as the current Student Office Hours after school will no longer be available starting second semester.

“In-person students have more of an advantage of communicating with teachers one-on-one more than online people,” Srinivasan said. “For online students, you never know what issues can happen with technology. It can be harder to reach out to teachers and get the help you need without interacting with them.”

Srushti Bhoyar, junior, said continuing to use the quarter system would cause her to not fully comprehend each class’ material and forget content as she doesn’t have time to review course units from previous quarters. 

She said a slower transition into the semester system is plausible as there will be more courses but less content to cover on a weekly basis. Boyar said she is still concerned about the impacts of the fast-paced quarter system on her preparedness for AP exams next semester.

“I’m really scared for the seven classes a week schedule because I am not used to that anymore,” Bhoyar said. “It might take a toll on my mental health, but I feel like after a while, we should be able to go back to what used to be ‘normal schooling’.”