EIS welcomes a new hybrid schedule


Sophia DiSarno and Katherine Purse

Change is inevitable, but recently there have been more changes than usual.  The pandemic has caused many disruptions in people’s day to day lives.  One of those disruptions includes Edison Intermediate School’s classes schedule.

Last school year the classes schedule included nine 40 minute periods with three minutes in between classes.  School started at 8:07 a.m and ended at 2:47 p.m. and students ate their lunch at school.  However, to incorporate different safety measures and make sure all students got the same amount of learning, the schedule was changed for the first marking period of the 2020 to 2021 school year.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused faculty at Edison Intermediate School (EIS) and other Westfield Public Schools to institute new safety measures to prevent students and staff from getting the COVID-19 virus.  One of the safety measures EIS faculty decided to take was to instate a hybrid learning model.  The main goals of the hybrid learning model were to minimize people’s contact with the virus and make sure students both virtual and in-person got the same amount of teaching.  Dr. Matthew Bolton, EIS Principal, stated, “When we were designing the old schedule, the first schedule…the teachers were concerned about how they were going to manage teaching the in-person kids and the remote kids at the same time…the nice thing about [the old schedule is]…the teachers were able to answer all the kids questions, both in-person and remote and made sure everybody had their needs addressed.”

With these priorities in mind, Dr. Bolton and many others began to devise a plan; and after many months they came up with their final solution.  There would be four cohorts, cohort A, cohort B, cohort C, and cohort D.  This first cohort, cohort A, would be in-person at school on Mondays and Thursdays and online the rest of the week.  The second cohort, cohort B, would be in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays and online the rest of the week. No one was in school on Wednesdays, as it was a cleaning day. Cohort C would be all virtual students; they would be online the entire week.  The last cohort, cohort D, would be in-person everyday of the week except Wednesday.  On Wednesdays, students in cohorts A, B, C, and D would be virtual and it would only be a half day, causing school to end at 12:30 p.m. because Wednesday afternoons would be reserved for teacher meetings.

The cohorts broke up the students into groups so there wouldn’t be as many kids in school.  So for the first marking period schedule students only saw five of their classes a day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  Wednesdays would be a half day and students would see all their classes.  School would start at 8:15 a.m and end at 12:30 p.m, then students would go to their afternoon sessions if they were virtual that day. 

On Mondays and Tuesdays, students would have 50 minute classes for periods one, two, three, and four; fifth period would only be 25 minutes.  There would be five minutes in between class periods. 

On Wednesdays, all students would be virtual.  It would only be a half day so teachers could go to meetings in the afternoon.  There would be five minutes between class periods but students would have all nine class periods in order.  Homeroom would start at 8:21 a.m. and ninth period would end at 12:30 p.m.  Each period would be 25 minutes.

On Thursdays and Fridays, students would go to periods six, seven, eight, and nine for 50 minutes each, then to period five, which would be 25 minutes.  There would be five minutes in between class periods.

On any day a student was virtual, besides Wednesday, they would have to attend an afternoon session.  The original use of the afternoon sessions were for online students to ask questions about what they learned in class.  However, different teachers took different approaches.  Some teachers only had students log on to the session to take attendance, then everyone left.  Other teachers used the time to answer questions and go over material from the lesson that morning.  There were teachers who chose a completely different approach, they would actually teach a new material during the afternoon session to help expand on what the students had originally learned in class, or to prepare them for class the next day.  Mr. Christopher Wiley, Science teacher, stated the best way to use an afternoon session was, “As a reinforcement of what we did in the a.m. sessions.  And to answer student questions.”

The afternoon sessions were a controversial topic during the first marking period.  Some teachers liked the afternoon sessions and others didn’t.  Mrs. Martha Fico, Health teacher and school nurse, shared, “It took a while to find the proper thing to do in the sessions that hopefully made them useful.”

Majority of the students disliked the afternoon sessions.  They would’ve much preferred to have an extended class period and optional extra help.  Charlotte Cotroneo, eighth grade student, explained, “I would have skipped many classes if I could have because for many classes I did not have questions..it was a bit of a waste of time when I could’ve been doing my homework instead.”

With these opinions in mind, Dr. Bolton and many others began to work on a new schedule for the second marking period.  According to Dr. Bolton, they wanted to design the second marking schedule so that students would get to see all their teachers more often, and everybody’s on the same page. “I think we needed to add more substance to the afternoon.  I think it was just the way it played out….I don’t think kids or parents found it to be very meaningful.  The fact that now it is synchronous classes, I think everyone is finding that to be more helpful,” Dr. Bolton stated.

Now, in the second marking period, the days the different cohorts go to school are the same; however the class lengths are the same now.  Every class from Monday to Friday, not including homeroom, is 32 minutes with a five minute break in between.  The only thing that varies from day to day is the order of the classes.  

On Monday students attend periods one through seven, have a 50 minute break, then attend periods eight and nine.  On Tuesdays students attend periods one through five, eight, nine, then have a 50 minute break.  Afterwards they attend periods six and seven.  On Wednesdays students attend all nine periods in order with no breaks, this way there is time for teacher meetings after school.  On Thursdays students attend periods one through three, six through nine, and then have a 50 minute break.  When the break is finished, they then attend periods four and five.  On Fridays students go to their first period, fourth through ninth period, have a 50 minute break, then attend their second and third period.

Students, staff, and parents are wondering if this is going to be our schedule for the next marking period or if it is going to change again.  Dr. Bolton explained, “I’m never going to say never because…this whole pandemic has thrown us for a loop when it comes to what changes and when it’s going to change.  I don’t think we could ever predict what’s going on right now, but here’s what I will say: we’re going to continue to speak to students.  We’re going to continue to speak to parents and teachers, and collect feedback about all of these things that have to do with the new schedule; and if we need to make changes then we’ll make changes.  I don’t see massive changes happening, but maybe adjustments here and there.”

Just like Mrs. Fico proclaimed, “Anything’s possible in the COVID era! We will have to wait and see!”