District implements new remote learning bell schedule

August 26, 2020 — by Ethan Lin and Allen Luo

Due to COVID-19 concerns, the district has begun the 2020-21 school year with a new remote learning bell schedule. The new schedule introduces 75-minute classes with 20-minute passing periods and a 35-minute lunch. 

The administration used community input and collaborated with surrounding schools and counties to create the new schedule. They also made sure to follow guidelines from the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

“The district gathered participants from all around school: stakeholders, staff, students and parents and worked on a variety of issues around this new normal we are calling distance learning,” assistant principal Kerry Mohnike said. “The goal was to have a schedule that could be used regardless of the phase of re-opening the county and district would be in.” 

For example, periods 5 and 6 were both moved before lunch to allow students without 7th periods to leave school for the day, minimizing the amount of potential contact students may have when leaving campus. 

Similar to the schedule implemented last spring, Mondays and Thursdays will now be odd days (periods 1, 3, 5 and 7), and Tuesdays and Fridays will be even days (periods 2, 4 and 6). School on these days will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m. with seventh period or optional office hours. 

To be marked as present, students must arrive at the start of every class. Students will be marked absent if they miss class, arrive 20 minutes late, leave class early unexcused or are deemed unresponsive by the teacher.

No classes will be held on Wednesdays, but because the county now requires in-person check-ins every weekday, students must attend an advisory period from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Third period teachers currently host these sessions, but the administration will rotate teachers every 6 weeks. 

During advisory, teachers will take attendance while students participate in different school-wide activities as part of a year-long, rotating schedule. The activities will all be under a broader three-pronged Unity Makes Community module that includes specific topics about social-emotional learning (SEL) and equity advisory, with administrators or student leaders designing other modules from student feedback. 

 “It’s definitely a great idea and probably the best we can do given the circumstances,” senior Enoch Luk said.

After the advisory period, students are recommended to complete at least four hours of assigned coursework.  

Although classes may seem shorter now, Mohnike said the school still meets the required instructional minutes. Both synchronous and asynchronous instruction is now factored into these minutes, as well as assignments made by a certificated employee of the Local Education Agency (LEA), the public board of education for the district. These employees include all teachers on campus.  

Considering the circumstances, many students feel that this new schedule is a positive change.

“I like that we have an optional schedule on Wednesdays that divides our classes into working periods,” junior Derek Hsu said. “I think that free Wednesdays last year were relaxing, but I'm also glad that if we want to manage our time, SHS gives us a chance.”

To get students acclimated with this virtual learning schedule, the school provided an orientation on Aug. 13 and 14, the first two days of school. Classes on those two days were shortened to 15 minutes each with 5-minute passing periods, followed by asynchronous and synchronous presentations as a part of “Modules for Students.” Attendance was mandatory for the 15-minute classes and the modules.

Although each normal class meeting will have synchronous instruction for at least half the period, teachers will not necessarily lecture throughout the live class and may lead students through various activities during each period. 

Similar to tutorials during in-person school, teachers now have regular office hours after sixth period where students can seek extra support. 

This time has been useful for many students, who see it as another benefit of the new remote-learning schedule. 

“I feel like the teachers have done a really good job mimicking a real classroom environment,” junior Glenn Liang said. “The new schedule is very organized and neat which allows students to easily transition to online learning.”

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