Blocked Aeries just causes more stress

January 16, 2016 — by Claire Rhee

Over winter break, I got to watch numerous TV shows and movies, finally enjoy ample sleep and have quality family time. But one thing bothered me: the blank screen in the Aeries grade portal.

Every year, the school shuts down the Aeries website (although all teachers will be switching to Canvas next school year) during the week of finals and opens it back up sometime during the second week of the second semester. This is a school-wide policy that is intended to lower student stress and give the teachers time to enter grades without the immediate rush of emails from students who have concerns about their grades. The school hopes that students will not worry about their grades over the holidays.

But for me and many other students, shutting down Aeries does just the opposite. Instead of forgetting about my final semester grades over break, I end up thinking about them even more. I would be far less stressed if I could see my grades immediately after the finals. That way, I would know my grades right away and would not have to stretch the agonizing wait into January.

While closing Aeries is also meant to help teachers, keeping it open doesn’t necessarily mean that teachers should have to answer to the students’ requests to fix their grades right then. Teachers could use the first week of second semester to enter in final grades, not break. They can let the students know that they will finish adding in grade bumps or extra credit when the next semester begins.

Furthermore, most teachers seem to have finalized grades before the break anyway. Even though the final grades cannot be seen, I could see that my grades had been updated on Friday, Dec. 18, the teacher work day before break begins.

Obviously, teachers want to get their work done as soon as possible, so many finish grading on that Friday. Keeping the portal closed so that teachers can finish putting in grades is a well meaning but largely pointless exercise. Besides, closing off Aeries does not in itself grant teachers more time to grade work.

In order to allow for a genuinely stress-free break, Aeries should be left open. Students should be able to monitor their grades through finals week and understand in which classes where they might need to study a little harder. Since the students would then already know their grades going into break, it would not nearly be as tortuous as going two weeks without knowing how the first semester went.

Unblocking Aeries or Canvas is a win-win. If students can already see what their grades are for the first semester, the teachers can avoid being asked the same, tiring question: What is my final grade?

As of now, there doesn’t seem to be a point to shutting the grading portal down. The practice just causes more stress over a supposedly “non-stressful” break, and I would prefer not to have to look at a blank Aeries screen again during the holidays.