Point: Is the New Quarter Schedule Beneficial?

Josie Krupens, Opinions Editor


   With online school in full swing for three weeks now, students and teachers are getting the grip of the new schedule. It’s a type of quarter system, with our first three classes for the first nine weeks, our second three classes for the second nine weeks, and then repeat. Though it is only the beginning of a strange year with its unique trials and challenges, this school schedule is extremely beneficial, and suits the needs of students and teachers during these times.

   One reason the school district and unions chose modified schedules for high schoolers was that managing six classes online at a time last year was too difficult. According to the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) website, “During online learning in the spring, students and parents expressed that having six online courses at the same time was difficult to manage” (sandiegounified.org). The district tried six online courses last spring, and found that it was too overwhelming for both students and staff. The natural solution was to cut down how many classes the students have to juggle at once, as it is important that students’ schedules don’t become packed to the brim with constant schoolwork.

   Various students agree that so far, compared to last year, this year’s schedule is a welcome change amid these unprecedented circumstances. Senior Mikaela Norum said, “I think this schedule works really well because while I have more work for each individual class, I have fewer subjects to keep track of.” Similarly, Senior Naama Mazor commented, “I like the quarter system because it’s easier to keep track of three classes at a time rather than six.” It is clear that from the perspective of a student, the reduced workload is greatly beneficial, allowing them to easily keep up with their work.

   By having fewer classes to focus on at once, that focus can be refined. SDUSD also listed this as a reason for the schedule, stating that the course load “…allows students to focus more intensely on fewer courses” (sandiegounified.org). With students able to focus on three classes instead of six, they may be more likely to better understand the material, because they don’t have an insane amount of content to cram into their brains every single day.

   The reduced school workload takes stress off of students. Today’s youth are living through a pandemic, the likes of which they have never experienced before. The CDC states that a pandemic can be extremely stressful, and social distancing can make people feel isolated (cdc.gov). With the COVID-19 stress, current politics, home lives, and more, school only adds even more weight onto the heavy shoulders of distressed students. According to NPR, “A survey by the American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all teens — 45 percent — said they were stressed by school pressures” (npr.org). In addition, a poll aimed at parents of high schoolers found that, “…[i]n most cases, [high schooler] stress is from academics, not social issues or bullying” (npr.org). All the stress of current events combined with the constant pressure of school can be too much for students. However, the new schedule, with only three classes to manage at once, can help students have less to focus on at once so as to not get so overwhelmed by everything going on in their lives.

   Not all high school students have the ability to balance the workload of six classes online. According to a website about teaching, “[Kids] might be caring for younger siblings. They might not have support from busy parents who are also trying to work from home. In these circumstances, trying to replicate a traditional school schedule online may be impossible” (weareteachers.com). It is important to consider the needs of students from different backgrounds. This quarter schedule gives them less school work at a time, making things easier to manage with the other things happening in their lives.

   Some students complain about the fact that in some or all of their classes, instructional time over Zoom now runs 73 minutes long. However, considering what could have happened if we had all six classes every day, three 73 minute classes is manageable. Imagine having six 50 minute long Zoom periods a day, slouched at the same place for the entire day, only to then encounter a barrage of homework. The idea sounds absolutely abysmal, doesn’t it? The current amount of live instruction is also in line with recommendations. According to Good Morning America, “High schoolers can tolerate between 3-4 total hours of instruction per day” (goodmorningamerica.com). The system of having three classes is more beneficial for student learning, considering the possible alternative.

   It is a strange time for students, parents, and teachers. Everyone is on edge, confused, wondering what to do, and the struggles of online school seem like just another hurdle to jump over. With this quarter system, however, students will be able to fight through it.