Schedule Restructured to Ensure Safety

Photo+Illustration+by+Edan+Zinn+%2723.

Edan Zinn

Photo Illustration by Edan Zinn ’23.

Nico Jaffer

As the School implemented safety measures to combat the pandemic, over the summer, Dean of Students Paul Murray restructured the academic schedule to accommodate for safety and social distancing.

Murray, who spent much of the summer creating individualized schedules for students, had the added challenge of creating several versions of what the academic day could look like, depending on the state of the pandemic

“We actually built about 8, 9, 10 different schedules, with each having a different schedule length,” Murray said. “We built a schedule that would work with four-feet distancing, but we were then told we had to have six-feet distancing, so we had to rework it around that. We had to figure out what rooms were available, and then we had to build a second schedule to go distance learning. It was lot more than normal, and we spent a lot of time working on it.”

To stager start times, the Upper School begins class day at 9:25 p.m., while the Middle School arrives at 8:15 p.m. However, School ends 35-minutes later this year for the Upper School, at 3:50 p.m., before students engage in optional athletic and fitness offerings. The Middle School ends class at 2:40 p.m., with optional athletic and fitness offerings while the Upper School is in last period.

The revamped schedule also calls for core classes to meet three times a week for one hour, resulting in a loss of 20-minutes of instruction time each week.

Head of Upper School Joshua Neudel elaborated on the decision to elongate class periods and reduce the frequency of class meetings.

“In order to minimize the number of transitions that happened during the school day, we decided to have a standard block length of 60 minutes,” Neudel said. “We know that transitions are the most difficult times to manage from a safety perspective. By having 60 minute blocks three times a week we were able to get close to the number of class minutes of a typical upper school class.”

Elective blocks will also only meet two times a week, not three, as per usual.

According to Murray, the biggest challenge involved scheduling lunch. Social distancing protocols could not be maintained in the Dining Commons with all Upper School grades on-campus for a lunch block, so students are eating outdoors while weather allows.

As the seasons change, the administration is evaluating options for lunch when colder weather arrives.

Overall, Neudel is pleased with the transition back to school.

“I think the schedule is going well. There are a few places we are looking at tweaking to improve the student and faculty experience,” Neudel said. “For example, we are considering moving snack to the beginning of second period since students can spend close to 1.5 hours in their first period classroom if they arrive early to school. We are also talking with teachers about adding in potential movement breaks.”