Francis Lewis High School returned to in-person learning on September 13 with a newly revised schedule due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements. Francis Lewis currently has a longer schedule of 14 class periods Monday through Friday, with freshmen, sophomore and some faculty members’ schedules starting later in the day and resulting in later dismissals.
“In order to open school for September, we needed to have the number of kids in the building be smaller than normal,” Principal Dr. Marmor said in response to why class periods range from 7:15 a.m to 4:48 p.m. “Our regular school, when we’re all here together, we are at 215% capacity. The overcrowding was unsafe due to COVID, and the longer schedule allowed us to spread everybody out so that we had a much smaller number of kids in the building and it was safer for COVID reasons.”
The number of students in school at the same time has been dramatically reduced due to the modification.
“Well, you have to remember again, the number of kids in the building has been reduced by 30%,” Dr. Marmor said. “Automatically, the crowding in the building is 30% lighter than it was before. So, just by definition of social distancing, less people equals less problems.”
Sophomore Lyna Huynh shared her experience with a late schedule, saying that it “interferes with a few clubs” she wants to join.
“I start school at 10:40 am and I end school at 4:08 pm,” Huynh said. “I have less time when I get home to do my work. My schedule also interferes with a few clubs I want to join. I wanted to join the music club but I have class during [it].”
Freshman Emily Zheng feels that the new schedule affects her energy levels throughout the day as her schedule changes depending on the day of the week.
“I do learn better when it’s not as early as 8 am, but being at school for 8 hours kind of tires me out,” Zheng said. “So, I’m kind of tired during my last classes. On Monday and Friday I start 8th period and end 14th period. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I start 4th period and end 14th period.”
Students aren’t the only ones affected by the schedule change. Freshman English teacher Ms. Schaffer expressed inconveniences she experiences as a result of the change.
“I think I get tired faster in school because I’m sitting for so many hours before I teach,” Ms. Schaffer said. “I have to come in 4th period but I don’t start teaching until 7th. I’m sitting and sitting and sitting, and you know when you’re waiting for so long, and you’re anxious? And then after school I can’t do much because the day’s over.”
Although Francis Lewis implemented the new schedule to help with social distancing in an already overcrowded school, some students feel that social distancing hasn’t been successful as students don’t follow the rules voluntarily.
“No, the tape marks in the cafeteria don’t make a difference,” Zheng said. “Students usually ignore them and do not follow the social distancing rules unless they are reinforced by the teachers. It is also unclear whether the tape marks seats that should be used or should not be used. The cafeteria and auditorium are often packed with kids in the study hall. There is simply no way that all the students can sit down and social distance simultaneously.”
However, the revised schedule did not negatively impact all, as certain students made the best of their circumstances. According to briantracy.com, studies show everyone has an internal set “prime-time” that allows their productivity to flow.
“I think my prime-time would be at night,” Huynh said. “It’s always really quiet and it helps me focus. My schedule lets me out of school pretty late but whenever I go home, it’s already night time so it works out. I get home at 4:40 but I don’t start my homework until 7.”
Huynh also feels that her education has improved greatly this year because schools have shifted back to in-person learning instead of remote learning.
“Yes, I do think my education has been impacted since my freshman year,” Huynh added. “I think I’m learning and understanding more this year because we have in-person learning. It’s easier to interact with teachers and students.”
Dr. Marmor offered words of advice to those who are struggling, and insisted that the schedule would be back to normal next school year.
“Our plan is to go back to a fully normal schedule for next year, even if there are still some lingering issues with the pandemic because next year, we are going to have a new building,” Dr. Marmor said. “We’ll have the ability to spread out, so this year is the only year we are going to have this schedule. For times of emergency, sometimes things that are not pleasant have to happen to keep people safe.”