Bellarmine back to a 9 a.m. start and A-B-A-B schedule

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Image courtesy of bellarmineprep.org

The new schedule is featured on the school website.

Evan Baerg

 

With all of the change affecting us so far in this school year, no one seemed surprised that the Bellarmine schedule would change once again.  Starting on Nov. 9, the school has transitioned back to the distance-learning A-B-A-B-Office Hours school week.  This new change would entail a transition to shorter class periods and a 9 a.m. starting time.

The new schedule is very clear in promoting two things: Office Hours and student resources.  Bellarmine website’s schedule outlines 17 slots per week in which students can request help from teachers (three per school day and five on Fridays).  In addition, the schedule specifies which times will always be available for drop-in support and which times can be requested by appointment.  The 9 a.m. start has many benefits for the sleeping schedule of students but is designed to allow students to find academic support.  Bellarmine has not been quiet about the resources available to every student and keeps encouraging students to take advantage of these opportunities.

Although the new schedule has only been in place for two, the students have already formed opinions on its effects on their academic and social lives.  One important group to ask for opinions are the Freshman, who have only experienced the hybrid-modeled (A-A-B-B-Office Hours) schedule until now.  According to them, the 9 a.m. start has been of great benefit, but shortening class duration actually increases the amount of time on Zoom.

Ninth grader Quin Dempsey said, “I like the 9 a.m. start time because I get more time to sleep and if I need help before school, I can get it, but I also feel like the teachers are actually lengthening the zoom calls.”

Similarly, freshman Daniel Abraham stated, “I like it because it gives us time to sleep in, but I feel like the classes go even longer because they run the whole 60 instead of maybe 40 of the 80 minutes.”

Surveying the other grade levels, many students have agreed to the same thoughts. “I like that 9 a.m. start so I can sleep in or get something done before school starts. But I agree the teachers do use up the whole 60 minutes on Zoom,” said junior Claire Comerford.

Since many classes are designed to fit an 80-minute time schedule while some can be 100% asynchronous, this use of all 60 minutes of class time for Zoom conferencing has been of great debate. Yet as we continue further into this school year, it seems one thing will always be present: the continual assessment of what is working and adaptation to the betterment.

Vice Principal of Curriculum and Instruction Bill Baerg explains the schedule rationale and purpose in detail.

 “When school closed in the spring, Bellarmine began researching different models to adopt in the event we could return at 50% capacity. The goal was to adopt a model that, primarily, got students on campus and supported the academic and co-curricular programs.

In anticipation of a quick pivot to 50% attendance (the July-August-September COVID numbers were promising), we adopted the hyflex A-A-B-B model. The recent rise in confirmed cases in Tacoma-Pierce County, however, and the recent announcement from Mr. Modarelli and Ms. Davis indicates that the pivot we were hoping for is not coming.

Considering the information shared that we will not be returning to the classroom during 1st semester, as well as an abundance of feedback from both teachers and students, Bellarmine shifted back to the A-B-A-B-Friday (Office Hours) schedule from the spring. Part of this shift includes a renewed commitment to connecting with students. Distance learning has been difficult for many students, and even many that are doing well academically are reporting social and emotional challenges that this shift will address.

I’m sincerely hopeful that the new schedule will have positive impacts on student learning as well as social-emotional well-being.”