Overbrook’s Wednesday Schedule

Colin Eckhardt

No school on Wednesdays? Sounds great, right? Overbrook High School implemented this schedule of no required school on Wednesday. Now, this day can be used to meet with teachers for extra help on their assignments. This schedule was added at the start of the 3rd marking period and looks to stay for the remainder of the COVID-19 school year. I surveyed students to gather their thoughts and opinions on this schedule and interviewed Mr. Lee, the principal of Overbrook High School. The five questions I asked Mr. Lee were related to the school schedule, COVID-19, and the future of all virtual learning, and here is what he had to say.
Why did you decide to make Wednesday not mandatory instead of half days?

“It was for a couple different reasons, because it was a lot for students to have to log in on that Wednesday and follow that half-day schedule and try to keep up with all that work. They [students] were saying, ‘we need a break to catch up on some of our work’, and so I discussed it with the teachers and… decided that Wednesday would be a great time for students to catch up. Also, if I’m a student who is remote, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to meet with teachers one on one because teachers teaching all day, so Wednesdays seemed like a natural way for us to say, ‘Wednesday you will have that time to meet with any of your teachers and go over anything you might not understand.’”

Do you think Wednesday not being mandatory will stick for the 4th marking period?

“I believe it will, honestly. Things are changing and I know we are waiting on some new information from the CDC for how far apart students can be in school and maybe try and bring some of our students in 4 days a week for the 4th marking period, but again you will have a lot of students who will choose to stay remote and for that reason, we would need to keep Wednesday the same way.”

 Do you see any more scheduling changes like more half days, reinstating Wednesday as full days, etc, if the school was to go back to full virtual?

“Let’s really hope that doesn’t happen. Right now the push is to get more kids back in the school and do more in-person learning. We are always evaluating, so if there was a situation we had to go back to a virtual mode, we are not afraid to make adjustments to lessen the burden on the students and the teachers too. Teachers have their own kids at home and students, a lot of the time, are taking care of younger siblings. We aren’t afraid to make changes but let’s hope we don’t have to go back to an all-virtual schedule.”

Do you prefer students learning in school or their homes? Why?

“100% prefer learning at school. And it is not everyone who has the same experience, high achieving students will always be high achieving students, doesn’t matter if they are at home, or they’re at school, but you have a large majority of students who are average achieving students and a good chunk of them are students who struggle with school, and not having them here in front of us is a huge barrier to what we’re able to do. We’re not naive, we know that students log in and then just don’t participate, but that option is not available when you are in class so we definitely prefer to be back in school. My preference is that again we really hope that come September everybody is back in the building.”

How do you think the effects of covid will affect future school years, schedule, and learning wise?

“So that’s what we talk about every day, it’s gonna be really difficult because you are going to have a lot of students who are behind. A fair amount of students who have failed classes for whatever reason, so right now we are planning this huge Summer program that will start right after the Fourth of July and will be available to students who have failed and for students who just need more help. Then moving beyond the Summer, our plan is to offer after school programs for that same reason, to bring kids in after the school day is over to help with whatever it is that they are struggling with because we know that this is going to last beyond this year. For me, a really large concern is that we already had a number of students who, coming into school, was really tough for them for whatever reason, but now they haven’t had to be at school for over a year, so they’re now going to be back in the building and be expected to be here every day, be held to the same attendance standards and everything else. Psychologically that is going to be really difficult, I think it will be difficult for the staff too, to come back into a regular school year in September and have all these students back in front of us again. We are going to try and keep things largely the same, and, you got to remember, we have an entire Freshman class who has never been here. So they are going to be Sophomore’s next year and have never stepped foot into the high school building. Then you are going to have 8th graders here as Freshman next year who have never been in a high school as well, so like at the end of the Summer we’re going to do a Freshman orientation for 2 days this year, but we are also going to do a two-day Sophomore orientation. So these students have an opportunity to be in the High School building. We’re really focusing on getting people ready for next school year.”

Overall, Mr. Lee prefers students to be back in school, learning and participating in activities. However, due to the current situation, he is putting student comfort first at the utmost importance. Removing Wednesday was the simplest, yet most effective way to provide comfort for students while also allowing them to meet with teachers. It provides a relaxing day for students and teachers which everyone greatly appreciates and benefits from.

I sent out a survey with the help of Mr. Lee and Mrs. Nadelbach, Newspaper club advisor and Library Media Specialist of Overbrook, which asked the students for their thoughts and opinions on this topic. There were a total of 57 responses from varying grades. When asked what they prefer, the new Wednesday-off schedule or the old Wednesday half-day schedule, a resounding 96.5% of students said they preferred the new Wednesday. This just goes to show that students are enjoying this change, and the next question can back this claim. When asked if the Wednesday off was helpful or not, 100% of recipients said it was helpful. Following this, students were asked why they thought this way, and here is the best answer I saw that generalized everyone’s ideas, “I like the new schedule because it gives students time to make up work. I personally don’t like doing work while in a Google Meet because when the teacher is talking about something off topic it can be hard to focus. Wednesday’s give students a chance to work on things without being limited to how long they can work on a certain class. Wednesday’s allow students to go to class if they need extra help. Not only has my mental health improved, my grades have gotten higher. I was failing 2 classes and now I am passing. Students who don’t need help in classes early in the morning are able to sleep in a little.” Most students seem to agree that Wednesdays allow students to catch up on work, relieve themselves of stress, meet with teachers, and have some time to not focus solely on school.

The next question asked was if students use Wednesdays to meet with their teachers and if so, for how many classes. 70.2% of students said they don’t meet with teachers at all, 28.1% meet with some of their teachers, and only 1 student said they do it for all their classes. These statistics show that students do use Wednesday for their intended use, to meet with teachers for a better understanding of the topic when necessary. Finally, students were then asked if they had any ideas to improve upon the general schedule. Most, as predicted, said no, however, there were a few ideas such as making a sign-up sheet for students that will be meeting with teachers and making it mandatory for students who have a lot of missing work to check in to meets on Wednesdays.

To wrap up this topic, it seems that this new Wednesday schedule is a success and will be sticking around for the foreseeable school year. Students love the day off, teachers get some free time, and it is just a win-win situation all around.