Illustration by Andrew Lam

Block schedule insufficient for in-person learning

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For the 2021-22 school year, the school has kept a similar block schedule from distance learning. While block scheduling may have worked then, it is ineffective and even harmful to students in an in-person learning format. Thus, the block schedule must be done away with since it only hinders students’ education.

Doing anything for two hours is draining, so being in the same classroom for two hours can make students exhausted. Being able to switch between classes in a schedule with all periods in a day is crucial to avoiding this exhaustion. This would prevent boredom and break up the monotony of the day. If students are bored in class, it is likely that they will lose focus. Block scheduling in distance learning avoided this issue only because the blocks were an hour long, but the current schedule with two-hour blocks makes student boredom a real issue.

Block scheduling is less forgiving on students in terms of making up work. Since each block’s length is equivalent to two days of instruction, students who are absent for one day will have missed two days’ worth of lessons. The pandemic has only worsened the consequences of missing days since students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to stay at home for two weeks. It can also be a stressful situation as the student is expected to make up piles of work.

The block schedule is not just hard on students, but it presents challenges to teachers. Since teachers now have to plan for longer classes, it may be difficult to judge how much time a lesson will take up. As a result, teachers may underestimate the time needed, and the lesson will not be finished by the end of the period. Or teachers could overestimate, leaving students with nothing to do and wasting valuable class time.

One of the reasons the block schedule was reused for the 2021-22 school year was to limit movement between classes and, subsequently, possible exposure to COVID-19. However, students are arguably more likely to spread COVID-19 during lunch when they are not wearing masks and sitting in close proximity to each other. With this in mind, it seems that block scheduling is pointless and only serves as an unnecessary hindrance on students. If the school really wants to prevent exposure, the first area they should tackle is lunch.

To solve the inherent issues of block scheduling and more effectively combat COVID-19, time in the schedule could be rearranged to allow for two separate lunch periods. With different lunch periods, students would be less concentrated, mitigating the spread of COVID-19. This way, students could still meet with all their classes every day while not being so crowded together during lunch.

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