Figuring out how to navigate the effects of COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone, especially schools. With differing access to technology and learning styles combined with the effect of learning in a completely different environment, at home, adjusting to online learning has been a challenging or at least new experience for all. SPA’s synchronous learning schedule requires too much of students, and teachers, at a time when everyone is feeling stressed and nervous about what the future might hold.
Recently SPA made adjustments to their synchronous learning schedule after “concerns” were voiced in a survey sent to both students and parents regarding distance learning. The new schedule requires students to meet with their classes twice a week to “address the need for more in-person interaction between our teachers and students” according to an email Principal Delgado sent to parents on April 30th. This means up to four 40-minute classes a day depending on your schedule. Not only that, SPA’s classes have not switched to pass/fail. Students not only have to keep up with synchronous class meetings, homework, and capstone projects, but also the fact that if they don’t finish their work it could harm their cumulative GPA. The weather is beautiful, and at the end of a lesson it’s not uncommon for teachers to tell students to go outside that day if they haven’t yet, but it’s hard to find time to enjoy being outside when days are spent in synchronous classes, nights are spent doing homework, and an underlying anxiety about the future fills any gaps.
However, this synchronous learning schedule is not inherently bad. It is important for students to see their teachers and have face-to-face time with other students. But it feels like overkill at a time when there is so much chaos happening all over the world. Are students supposed to ignore the pandemic that is responsible for people they love losing their jobs, experiencing huge levels of anxiety, and even dying, so they can spend upwards of three hours in online classes? This would be a good schedule had it been implemented, say, this fall, when we might be in online classes, but some of the unknowns about COVID-19 will be known. Was it really worth implementing this new schedule with only a month of school to go?