Returning to in-person school this year has resulted in several major changes, one of the most controversial among students being the new bell schedule.
Before the pandemic, the Palo Alto High School bell schedule consisted of two block-period schedules with “even” days on Tuesdays and Thursdays, “odd” days on Wednesdays and Fridays, and Mondays alternating each week between “even” and “odd.” Class periods were 90 minutes long and split between the two days. Now the Monday schedule has been amended to include all seven periods in 45-minute blocks. We urge the district to reevaluate the current Monday schedule and revert back to rotating block days.
Since the classes are only 45 minutes, it’s not enough to settle in and actually do work, so we only get 20 minutes of work time. It also takes away time from the rest of the week because we only get two quality periods for each class.
—Kathleen Lum, junior
The shortened periods do not give students adequate time to learn course material thoroughly or engage meaningfully with the curriculum. They also deprive students of valuable instructional time they could have received with the alternating block day schedule.
“Since the classes are only 45 minutes, it’s not enough to settle in and actually do work, so we only get 20 minutes of work time,” junior Kathleen Lum said. “It also takes away time from the rest of the week because we only get two quality periods for each class.”
Moreover, a new district policy prohibits tests, quizzes and summative assignments from taking place on Mondays in an attempt to reduce student workload over the weekend. However, this well-intentioned ban has only resulted in an overload of work due on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“Because I think it’s a long day for the kids, by the end they’re really tired out. I think it’s also too short of a time to really get into activities.”
—Alex Salzmann, teacher
Additionally, after attending all seven periods and walking across campus from class to class all day, many students feel exhausted.
“I understand why it [the schedule] exists, but I don’t like it,” teacher Alex Salzmann said. “Because I think it’s a long day for the kids, by the end they’re really tired out. I think it’s also too short of a time to really get into activities.”
According to Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin, the district will not revise the Monday schedule this school year because it would overhaul the schedules of all PAUSD middle and high schools.
“We share staff between schools, so they [middle and high school bell schedules] need to be consistent,” Austin told Verde. “One of the things we really wanted out of the closures was to keep the two high schools on the same schedule. And then there has to be some alignment with our middle schools, because especially at Gunn, they share a lot of staff.”
Although the Monday schedule will remain the same for the rest of this school year, Austin said PAUSD will likely revisit it and make changes next year. We continue to urge the bell schedule committee and PAUSD to reconsider the seven-period Monday schedule and revert back to the alternating block day schedule.