Updated 2022-23 Bell Schedule Confuses Teachers and Students


Sofia Rossini and Sara Ramos

This year, yet another change was made to San Rafael High School’s bell schedule. The change added more “T days,” slightly altered dismissal times, and introduced minimum Wednesdays. The process to make and finalize these decisions is complicated and has once again produced controversial results.

Both students and teachers have asserted that they are unhappy with the schedule, claiming it’s hindering their respective learning and teaching. But, as there often is, there’s more to the story when it comes to why the changes had to be made.

According to new principal Joe Dominguez and the Executive Director of Secondary Education Tyler Graff, the schedule is formed with input from all sides. Any possible changes are discussed by the principal and representatives of the teacher union, who then go to Graff and the Enrollment Department in the District Office to confirm the schedule meets the minimum minute requirement for the school year. They then meet with the Board of Education to get final approval of the schedule. 

Some of the recent changes have been questioned, particularly those surrounding the decision to add more traditional days to the schedule.

SR has had a block schedule for many years now, the most drastic recent change to that system being the addition of “T days” every Monday to sync with Terra Linda High School’s schedule and make weekly schedules consistent. TBABA rather than alternating exclusively with B and A days.

Graff explained that the reason for the extra T days this year is because there is a minimum number of minutes allowed in a school year–64,800, according to the CA Department of Education. As of last year, SR was just barely above the limit. If we had to cancel any days for flooding, fires, smoke, or Covid-19, they would’ve had to extend the school year. Now, we have some “wiggle room,” in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Alison Arevalo wrote an opinion piece for Off the Leash in 2019 when the switch to T days was made. In the article, students and teachers conveyed concerns about the new schedule and seemed displeased with the alterations. That is still the general consensus. Senior Shaylee McCulley expressed that T days have “too many classes in one day. You can’t do much.”

A long-time English teacher at SR, Cynthia Hager has found teaching during T days frustrating. She says she is “constantly in a rush. I can’t give meaningful instruction with that little time.” She believes her students have trouble “digesting information with such little time to do so.” She ends up using those traditional days as “catch up days” for her students, but feels they aren’t valuable because she can’t teach new material.

Lee Chretien, an SRHS math teacher, felt similarly. He said it’s hard to teach classes like mathematics and world languages in such a short period of time, as they require much more repetition in learning.

This year, T days aren’t only on Mondays anymore. Just this September, the school had two T days during the week of Labor Day. Instead of what was previously typical–just removing the T day and continuing with a normal BABA schedule–the school had a TTBA week. Ms. Hager found this change to be a shock, as most of the community had voiced irritation with T days.

Senior Jeidi Alvarez said she thinks “it’s pointless because having two T days in a week makes it so that they can’t learn a lot. There’s less time in each class to do anything.” Jeidi also said that it was frustrating having a later dismissal three days in a row because of the B day that followed the two T days.

“It was too much to remember all at once,” said Karla Flores. She felt that having all seven classes for two days in a row made it hard to remember everything that was taught. 

Having two traditional days in one week made many teachers change their lesson plans. Jose Ortiz, a math teacher at SR, felt there wasn’t enough time to properly teach what he had planned for those days. “It was an inconvenience…It could have been avoided.”

The new schedule also has a number of minimum Wednesdays throughout the school year.

According to Graff, the new minimum Wednesdays were included for professional development for teachers. With the extra time, teachers meet to discuss the “standards,” or lessons, they need to prioritize, and how to implement valuable skill building before graduation. 

Ms. Hager appreciates this designated time, finding that “teacher collaboration is very important.”

Though teachers and students at SR have expressed displeasure with the schedule adjustments in recent years, there’s reasoning behind all of it. Despite conflicting perspectives and tight schedules to meet, principals at SR and TL are working towards synced schedules that reflect the preferences of students and teachers alike, according to Tyler Graff and Mr. Dominguez. It’s a difficult line to walk, so it will inevitably take some time to reach as near to perfection as it can get. Until then, SR will have to prepare to have a few more double T days and minimum Wednesdays. Ms. Hager makes a point that, regardless of frustrations, we should “make the best of it, [because] we’re Bulldogs after all.”