Students and teachers share mixed emotions on schedule change 

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Following spring break, District 87 I has shifted into their class schedule to 8 periods per day 5 days a week. This is the 6th time they have switched the schedule. After a year without it, students and teachers have mixed emotions about the sudden change in schedule 7 weeks before summer. 

Teachers still struggle to balance teaching 2 groups of students: online and in-person. Many teachers say that it is very difficult to connect with virtual learners, so those students are the top priority. 

Tim Fawkes is the orchestra teacher at East. He said that during last weeks of the school year he will try to include the online students as much as possible. 

“My major concern is preparing for the change in planning for the students who are fully remote. The school is responsible for supporting those students as much as possible! I plan to make the fully remote students a major priority in my planning,” said Fawkes. 

Molly Gstalter said she thinks the same way when coming to her online students. She says that teaching virtually is definitely a challenge, but with the right tools, you can do it. 

“I will balance teaching online and in-person just as I have all year along by trying my best and remaining positive. Teachers are humans too. This year has been challenging and some days are easier than others. The balancing act between remote and in-person instruction requires maximum patience, creativity, and energy,” said Gstalter. 

Of course, when living in a pandemic there are definitely safety concerns when it comes to in-person learning. Illinois has changed the six feet social distancing guidelines to three feet. This creates space for the influx of students coming to school for the first time in a year. 

Some people are skeptical about this decision. More people can contract the virus when closer together. 

Corrine Petiprin is a freshman at East. She thinks that the three feet rule is too early. Because students are not vaccinated yet, it’s unsafe for them to be so close together she says. 

 “I think that the new ‘3 feet of social distance’ is a bit premature”, said Petiprin. “Just because the vaccine is being distributed, doesn’t mean restrictions can be cut this quickly. Especially because contact tracing is still 6 feet. What if a classmate that is sitting 3 feet away has COVID? The student sitting next to them has done nothing wrong yet is still being exposed.” 

 With the school day being longer, along with many sports going on, students are bound to eventually feel overwhelmed. Remote students are spending much more time on Zoom every day.       

 “My concern is that change will not be as positive to those who stay remote as they have another 10 hours of computer time a week. That will be very tiring, though I respect their decision to keep their families safe by staying home,” said Gstalter. 

The amount of homework and hours on Zoom has increased, and so has everyone’s stress level. 

“I also think it would cause stress levels in students to skyrocket. We’re used to a slow, easy amount of work to do, maybe around an hour every night. But once we switch back, we’ll get a “normal” amount of work. What’s so great about the beginning of the school year, is that we have time to ease into the workload. After spring break, students will feel bombarded with homework that needs to be completed on top of other extracurricular activities,” said Petiprin. 

Some students have been trying new hobbies to maintain their mental health. Some try drawing, meditation, or reading. 

Corrine Petiprin says that she listens to music during homework or studying. This is a common strategy when it comes to focusing. 

“I’ve discovered new techniques to help me focus. I’ve found that listening to music does wonders,” said Petiprin. 

Abby Jarvis is a freshman at East. She said that during the pandemic, she has paid more attention to her mental health. Meditation has kept her grounded. 

“I just try focusing on things outside of school like meditation and other hobbies,” said Jarvis. “The workload for some of my classes is crazy and even though I’ve been keeping up with it, it’s nice to wind down with my favorite hobbies.” 


Contributions by Eva Mathie