Francis Lewis Implements Schedule Modifications for In Person Learning

You shove your books into your bag as the bell goes off for the next period. You slowly walk to the classroom door and take a deep breath before walking into the sea of students ahead of you. Slowly moving through, you hear people laughing about the party they had last night, the guy behind you on the staircase complaining to his friend about his test that day, a girl looking down at her phone while eating a sandwich, and a group of friends occupying parts of the narrow hall. Then there are people like yourself, ducking and diving through the crowd before arriving late to class. You reach class and a feeling of relief overcomes you, temporarily.

Francis Lewis High School opened its doors to full in-person instruction on September 13 this school year, with modifications. Two of these modifications have been shorter class periods and a decrease in time between classes from four minutes to one minute.

“Because of COVID, we needed to condense the schedule to make sure that we were able to extend the day,” Principal Dr. Marmor said. “The only way we could spread out, and still get you out at a reasonable time was to have the one minute passing. So we condensed it to one minute specifically for the idea that we know it’s not going to take you a minute. The one minute was a signal that says go straight to class.” 

Some students feel that the one minute passing with a two minute grace period has been effective. 

“Less people are in the hallway because they’re trying to get to class, so less people will be talking in the hallway and just standing,” sophomore Aisha Zaidi said.

Yet at the same time, it hasn’t always been entirely successful. Students don’t always go to class like they’re supposed to, as they continue to linger in the hallways.  

“It needs to be longer because some students hear the second bell and only take it as a recommendation to get to class,” Global teacher Ms. Lieberman said. “Typically, the second bell always meant ‘You are officially late’, now it’s more like ‘ok, I’ve got a few more minutes, I’ll get there soon.’  Many students are taking advantage of this situation and taking their sweet time to get to class.”

“It has worked to an extent, we still get kids using the time to still hang out but it gives us an opportunity to start moving them quicker,” Dr. Marmor added.

Though the limited time between classes is essential during the pandemic, it has caused some problems for students. For example, it’s not easy to get to class on time within three minutes.

“It’s easier to miss class or be late because three minutes is so little,” Zaidi added. “What if you have to go out of the trailers to the third floor, that’s a lot. When I have to go to tutoring, I have to leave the trailer class, and then go to the attendance office, and then go to the third floor, and I feel like that’s a lot. Three minutes just doesn’t really work.”

Sophomore Leah Pakan agrees.

“I think obviously more time is needed,” Pakan said. “There’s no way I can get from the field to my third-floor science class in one minute. A lot of teachers give some time, like ok you have four minutes, but that also cuts into class time. So that’s what I’m saying, you have 36 minutes in class to really do something.”

Some teachers also feel like they are experiencing this issue between classes.

“It is a little hectic at times because students don’t have much time to go from class to class, and it’s harder to get the class started because of that,” mathematics teacher Ms. Kim said. “That limited time not only means for students but for teachers we also have a limited time for getting from room to room. So just setting up and everything, it just seems like it’s a little bit more delayed, especially if it’s the first class in that room.”

In addition to implementing a shorter time between classes, Francis Lewis has also decreased the length of each class period to 40 minutes. 

“My teaching time is cut to basically 35 minutes,” Ms. Lieberman said. “It’s extremely difficult to get fully engaged in a lesson with such a time constraint.”

Some Francis Lewis students share her sentiments. 

“Whenever we have less time for teachers to be teaching us, they’re kind of rushing us and then it doesn’t really stick in my brain enough because I need them to go over it,” sophomore Rebecca Abramov said. “They’re trying to rush and get us out of there so then we can be on time for our other periods.”

In addition to difficulties in learning during a lesson, shorter class periods can take a toll on students when taking an exam as some teachers still give the same length tests. 

“Now you have 40 minutes,” Pakan said. “Then by the time you get to class, it’s around 36 minutes, so it takes a lot of our time out. Other than that, it’s just five minutes, but on a test five minutes definitely makes a difference.” 

Students have complained that not only does the shorter time between classes take away from class time, it can also eliminate attempts of maintaining social distancing. 

“Since we only have one minute to get to class, everyone’s trying to rush to class and since everyone’s running they’re all just kind of bumping into each other,” Abramov said.  

Other students have shared similar experiences when moving between classes. 

“It is extremely crowded, like there is no social distancing,” Pakan said.  “Everybody’s on each other rushing to class, there’s no six feet, there’s not even three feet apart.”

However, when speaking with Ms. Lieberman, she believes overcrowded hallways between classes have always been a problem. 

“In a school with a population like FLHS, maintaining social distancing is close to impossible,” Ms. Lieberman said.  “The hallways have always been crowded during passing, pandemic or not.” 

The good news is that the one minute passing and shorter class periods are temporary as administration is planning for the schedule to go back to normal next year. 

“Everything we’ve been doing this year was for the safety of the students and the safety of the faculty,” Dr. Marmor said. “Nothing is more important than making sure everybody here is safe. All of the things we’re doing from the longer schedules to the shorter passing time all have to do with COVID safety and next year with the new building opening all of these things should go away and we should be going back to a completely normal schedule.”