On April 26th, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students returned to full time in-person learning. With this transition came new distancing guidelines, lunch regulations, and a half day for students every Monday.
Students are now dismissed at 12:35 on Mondays instead of the usual 2:05. Before the schedule adjustments, students had four 75 minute classes Monday through Thursday, with Fridays consisting of all eight periods meeting for 35 minutes each.
Junior Henry D’Andrea said, “On [Fridays], when we had every single class in one day, it was just way too hectic, homework loads skyrocketed, it was too much. I think [the new schedule] definitely beats it.”
The early release on Monday is possible due to the exclusion of the typical lunch and flex period and classes being shortened by five minutes. Chemistry teacher Natalie Munn believes that missing this Monday flex opportunity is negatively impacting students. “I actually think we’re not just losing the academic piece, but we’re losing the social/emotional opportunity that flex provides for people to be together.”
Others think that Monday isn’t the most ideal day to have as the half day. “I think [the half day] should be on a Friday, because when it’s done on Monday you’re thrown off your rhythm for the week,” said senior Molly Menton. “I just think they should have asked more students for their opinion on this because it’s impacting us so much.”
According to assistant principal Jeremy Light, half days were chosen to fall on Mondays because that is the most beneficial day for teachers and cafeteria staff. “The purpose is to give [teachers] an opportunity to collaborate with their peers, to conduct family outreach, and to develop curriculum [for the upcoming week]. [The half days] also help the cafeteria get ready for the week, because they’re asked to prepare a lot of lunches in such a short period of time. So that gives them an extra day, and students a little break.”
Some students, however, are still adjusting to the new schedule. “It’s a little weird and kind of hard to socialize but still stay distant in [the gym]. I don’t love it. I actually like eating in the classroom better,” said freshman Lyla Stoway.
When asked about the combined lunch and flex period, Dr. Munn said, “It’s a lost opportunity for kids to get extra help, or to get one-on-one time with the teacher, to talk about something that they need to. We used to have some club meetings and specialty groups [meet] during flex, we don’t really have those options right now.”
Mr. Light recognizes the challenges brought on by the new schedule but believes it is better in the long run. “I hope to use the half day again [next year], but I’d really rather get back to having all the lunches in the cafeteria.”