Point: Student Workload: Excessive or Manageable?

Josh Click, Photo Editor

   UC High School students are coming out of an almost two-year quarantine, and what’s the best thing the school system has done to welcome us back? An unnecessary and unachievable workload. In addition to stressing about the dangers of COVID-19, students now have to stress over schoolwork as well, not to mention extra-curricular activities. Such stress could possibly be damaging to students. Students have spent a long period of time outside of real, in-person school, so the school should be more lenient with the workload and stress placed on students to begin the year.

   After about two years inside, students are lacking human contact from social gatherings and other high school activities. They are not prepared to get thrown back into a situation so startling and without any leeway. Students are being forced to go to school for 6 hours a day, and then are expected to do countless hours of homework after that. They can’t be expected to be just as productive as they were a year and a half ago without time to re-acclimate to a typical high school schedule.  

   Students are always stressed about school, that’s almost a given, and the addition of COVID doesn’t help. This combination creates an unhealthy amount of stress which in turn affects how well that student performs. According to TeachThought, Judy Willis, a board-certified neurologist, said, “Stress cuts off students’ access to these networks of higher-order thinking, logic, creative problem solving, and analytical judgment. When there is a loss of higher brain control, the lower, reactive brain’s involuntary outputs are in charge. The resulting behaviors are limited to the equivalent of fight/flight/freeze reactions. The student also cannot use the resources of executive functions to understand, evaluate, or apply new learning” (teachthought.com). Stress should not be a part of any student’s educational career, but it is right now and it affects their brains. So give students a break with a lower workload.

   UC High did not simply ignore this situation. Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, the San Diego Unified School District introduced a new rule that teachers must follow to try to reduce stress and try to accommodate everyone’s situation. Teachers were to allow students to turn in late work and not to let behavior influence their grades. UC High teachers now give students 5 days after an assignment is turned in without negative grading repercussions, according to the district’s website. The teacher has the right to explain how this will be implemented in his or her classroom (sandiegounified.org). This is a great new standard that is helping a lot of students, but it’s not enough. Is a five-day grace period really helpful when students just get inundated with more work the next day without getting adequate time to make up what they have missed? What happens then? Most of the time when a student takes a long time to submit an assignment, it is caused by outside issues; it should not be conflated to “laziness.” This is a great start; however, there’s still more to be done. 

   According to Senior Florence Arevalo, “I think they could better take into account how much work they are giving students, especially with seniors who have college applications and other time commitments on their plates.” She’s absolutely right. All students have different lives and responsibilities outside of school, and not everyone can handle an extra layer of work and responsibilities from school.

   After almost two years of quarantine, students are still being affected by COVID-19. With the stressful addition of so much schoolwork, students are suffering. The school system is not doing enough to alleviate student stress, and they really should listen to the students if they care about their mental health and wellbeing.