The New Schedule Causes First Semester Headaches


Vanessa Torres, Contributor

I stroll casually into my 4th period class, and my stomach drops. It’s 3rd period. “Ugh,” I say to myself while frustratingly marching back, knowing that I will be marked tardy. 

Even for a senior, adjusting to the new schedule is not easy. It makes numerous students loathe the traditional Monday schedule even more. 

Ultimately, the new schedule introduced at SRHS this year does not benefit students or teachers. It shortens the span for students to complete homework and forces teachers to redesign their teaching plans. System-wide, it creates new challenges for the school. 

The district wanted San Rafael’s block schedule to be aligned with Terra Linda’s, meaning it would allow the two schools to share classes and programs for added benefits due to the consistency. 

The current San Rafael principal, Mr. Dennis, reached out to the entire community with surveys and discussions to gauge interest in this change. According to Mr. Dennis, the surveys showed that students were overwhelmingly against it, and teachers were willing. 

Teachers, department heads, and administrators discussed adjusting homework expectations in meetings. Potentially, every student has to do homework for every class before a traditional Monday schedule, which can be extremely stressful. 

The issue is getting departments to agree on a homework policy. “I don’t think we’d get teachers to agree anyway,” says Mr. Dennis. This is because each department handles their curriculum differently, which causes homework loads to vary from each subject. 

Even so, it’s important to at least encourage teachers to discuss within departments to make a policy on how much homework should be given to level out the homework load.

This can be extremely helpful because students are already stressed about the homework they have to do right after school. It can cause students to lose sight of the importance of homework. 

Danna Pasos, a sophomore, explains how she feels students’ voices weren’t taken into consideration: “There was a survey for students but it seems it wasn’t taken into account.” 

Also, she feels that the new schedule is mentally exhausting. She adds on, saying, “There is an overload of homework and classes over the weekend and during the week. Nothing gets done.” 

Even though freshmen have no experience to compare the new bell schedule to, they too have complaints. One freshman, Emma Regan, says, “I forget what time we get out and it stresses me out because I just want to go home, but besides that I like the new schedule.” 

According to Regan, “at Davidson Middle School, I was always stressed out about homework and the days felt very long.”

Indeed, this is great for freshmen who are most likely to be less impacted by this new bell schedule. Although, they are unaware of the countless advantages that come along with the original bell schedule. 

Mr. Castle is one of teachers who prefers this schedule. He says, “In terms of an academic sense, I get to see every single student guaranteed three times a week. I think it’s really important, especially in music. I know for different subjects it can be good or bad.” 

Students are already under a lot of pressure to achieve academically. This pressure, increased by an unhelpful schedule, can cause stress. Studies by the University of Derby have shown that this stress can negatively impact student mental health by increasing the chances of depression, anxiety, and self harm.

Luz Diaz, a senior, says, “I find it more stressful to finish assignments over the weekend and be up-to-date in every single one of my classes.” Even though the schedule helps her be apart of outside activities such as the school play, her stress ultimately builds up.

Tynan Weathers, a junior, states, “The clarity presented by the administration was sub-par as I received no word from them as to the reason for the schedule change.” 

The students interviewed for this article all would have at least preferred to have been told why there was this change. 

The schedule can cause complications within the school system. If a student misses a Monday traditional day, then they miss not just 3 or 4, but 7 classes, as our school counts absences by classes. 

The School Attendance Review Board (SARB) may send letters to students who are missing numerous classes even if they are excused or unexcused. 

When I asked Mr. Dennis whether students missing multiple classes would deal with more scrutiny from SARB, he replied, “I don’t know if students will get more SARB letters, they might.” 

For the security at our school, the schedule can be difficult as well. 

Ben Johnson, one of the two campus supervisors at our school, explains that, “There is more hallway clearing and monitoring students’ activity. You end up with a lot of student movement, which takes me away from other duties that are much more important.” 

The main office encounters complications as well. 

Ms. Rodriguez, the administrative assistant to the principal, says that, “The bell schedule isn’t impacting my job, but I can’t get big projects done during Monday traditional days.” 

An example of such a project is scheduling retakes for school pictures. She had to send out about 300 passes, which is difficult given the forty-five minute class periods.

Ms. Look, the AP administrative assistant, explains that, “Mondays are very difficult for scheduling subs. If a teacher is out then I have to fill 7 classes, which can be challenging,” 

The schedule can provoke stress in teachers because it can cause teachers to be behind in their schedule. 

Certain teachers, such as Ms. Deamer, Mr. Goff, and Ms. O’Neill, only have one or two classes because they have part-time teaching jobs. Unfortunately, they have to end up going to school on Mondays to teach those short periods. Ultimately, this can be extremely inconvenient. 

Mr. Winton, a history teacher, teaches AP European History, and he is about a week behind schedule. This can be detrimental because there is so much to cover before AP testing. 

He says, “In terms of teaching and learning, the old schedule was better for me. I had to completely change my pacing and lesson plans. I’m having to do it day-by-day.”

Teachers have to figure out how to utilize the Mondays in the best way possible. They have to prep for 7 classes for every Monday.

Ms. Caiocca, a math teacher, says, “In terms of teaching, you have to adapt your teaching methods, so that it actually fits in having that new traditional day and getting used to that is challenging.”

Still, some argue that the set time schedule creates consistency. The new schedule may aid with certain electives or programs. For example, AVID can better access tutors because the tutors can come in at concrete times continuously. 

The new bell schedule allows sports games and other organizations to provide new opportunities to students. There is a breeding ground for more rich opportunities for the students. Yet, the new schedule shouldn’t be focused on outside organizations, but rather educational benefit. 

One question is if the District wanted Terra Linda and San Rafael to have the same schedule to share resources, then why are their blocks still significantly different? We have blocks in order of numbers and TL has even-odd blocks.  

Even so, looking at the bigger picture, students and teachers are the ones who are mostly affected by the schedule. Administration should look into accommodating resolutions to issues that bubble up to the surface such as student stress. 

At the end of the day, is consistency and extra programs worth it if students are gradually becoming stressed? I think not.