PRO: Pros and Cons of new bell schedule
For the 2021-2022 school year, SCHS implemented a new bell schedule that includes 95-minute block periods and an 8:45 a.m. start time. This new bell schedule will have everlasting benefits for both students and teachers.
The new schedule will improve students’ attention spans during class due to later wake up times and increased amount of sleep. In previous years, first period began at the early time of 7:30 a.m. According to an article by Melody Wilding from Inc.com, the most ideal time to take in new information is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.. The new schedule helps set students up to successfully learn when their brains are functioning best.
Furthermore, the early start time led to sleep deprivation among some students. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers should get between 8-10 hours of sleep each night. The later start time will help encourage students to get an adequate amount of sleep.
A later start time also allows some students to utilize their time in the morning for different activities. While some students may use the later start time to sleep more, other students may take the time to prepare full breakfasts and even lunches. In the past some may have felt they did not have time in the morning to eat a full breakfast, but now, healthier eating habits are encouraged with more time before school.
The block schedule takes place four out of the five days during the school week, and there is a ten-minute passing period between block periods. In previous years, it was only six minutes, which made it difficult to do anything besides get to the next class. Within these ten minutes, there is ample time to use the restroom, refill water bottles and socialize with friends all while still being able to get to class in a timely manner.
Due to the block schedule, students do not attend all of their classes every day and thus do not have to bring all their school materials for each class every day. Not only does this prevent disorganization but it also helps remove some of the weight of heavy backpacks. Although a small change, lighter backpacks will have positive benefits in the long run regarding physical health.
While some subjects are not as impacted by the lengthy 95-minute periods, the longer class time allows for many classes to start and complete activities without feeling rushed. Science classes have the ability to conduct experiments and complete labs with plenty of time. Art classes, such as ceramics and painting, also enable students to carefully create their artwork.
Although some may object to the new bell schedule due to the long 95-minute periods and later dismissal time, the schedule promotes healthier sleeping and eating habits. While the schedule may have been difficult to adjust to at first, the benefits it will have on students will be worth it in the long run.
CON: Pros and Cons of new bell schedule
In anticipation of the statewide law that mandates high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., both SCHS and Wilcox High School voted to change the districtwide high school schedule. This school year, they implemented a new schedule that involves four block days of a staggering 95-minute classes per week, as well as a later end time than that of previous years. Unfortunately, there are numerous issues as a result of the new schedule, including interference with sports and after-school activities, traffic jams and overwhelmingly long stretches of class time.
The late start time for school is intended to help teenagers overcome an obstacle that many struggle with: getting a full night’s sleep. Indeed, the change will benefit some students’ sleep schedules. Others, however, will just stay up later because they can or because they are forced to, as many activities, such as sports, have been moved to take place later during the day. After all, the late start time results in a late end time as well.
After-school activities, such as sports and marching band, are unable to begin until at least 4:15 p.m. on some days, pushing students to stay at school later, get home later and thus stay up later. Seventh period on block days does not end until 4:10 p.m. and because of this, some students may be discouraged from taking more classes, especially if they are offered seventh period. For example, Symphonic Band Two, a class many students take solely because they enjoy it, is during seventh period this year. Some prospective students opted not to take it because they did not want to be at school so late.
Although both SCHS and WHS have adapted their schedules ahead of the state mandate, many other California high schools have not, causing issues for school sports as games often still start at 4:00 p.m. since it is a convenient time for other schools. In order to participate in games, student athletes are forced to miss more class time than they would have under past schedules.
The new schedule has also created traffic issues. Instead of two viable options for schedules – as were offered previously – the late two through seven start and end times mean that many students are taking periods one through six to avoid having to stay at school past 4:00 p.m. This has caused traffic jams in front of the school before first period and after sixth.
There is also an issue with the block periods themselves. Students may have trouble sitting and listening for a whole 95 minutes. Some teachers have taken to using class time for “mental breaks” instead of instructional time because their students simply cannot absorb information over such an extended period.
Admittedly, the long periods can be good for labs and experience-based classes, such as sciences or culinary arts. But for the average class, 95 minutes is an excessive amount of time. Purely instructional classes, like math or history, can be mentally draining for a student when stretched out over an hour and half.
As the novelty of returning to school wears off, the flaws of the current schedule become more and more obvious. It will be interesting to see if SCHS will continue to use this schedule for next year, or alter it to better benefit students.