BHS Schedule Adjusts Due To Pandemic

Christmaelle Vernet, Staff Writer

Due to the pandemic, Barnstable High School was faced with a challenge like no other: an important task of preparing a schedule that will be both functional while allowing approximately 2,000 students to be safe and healthy. The schedule has presented itself many benefits, such as controlling how many people are in the school, and fewer classes in the day. But it has been shown that there has been much to work on as well.

Four different cohorts were established for the 2020-2021 school year. “Cohorts are a method of grouping students in the elementary school easier by classroom; it helps with contact tracing. At the high school, students break into smaller groups for scheduling and it helps more people come to school in person,” said Kristen Harmon, the assistant superintendent of Barnstable Public Schools. Cohort A and B are a style of hybrid learning, with A attending in person learning on Mondays and Tuesdays while engaging in remote learning for the remainder of the week;B students do the opposite on Thursdays and Fridays. Cohort C students attend school fully in person with their only remote day is the school-wide remote day on Wednesdays, which are dedicated to a more intensive sanitizing of the building. Lastly, Cohort D is completely online and will not attend school in person at all. There are around 950 students in both A/C and B/C cohorts.

Another change added to the schedule was the Wednesday schedule. On Wednesdays, all students are expected to engage in remote learning. At the beginning of the school year, students would attend their A,B, and C classes through video conferencing platforms like Google Meet and Zoom starting at 8:10 a.m. The day would then conclude at around 10a.m. This raised concerns with parents. Although most students loved the idea, the day was soon reformed with students attending their A, B , C, D, and E classes in reverse order starting at the usual time of 7:20 a.m. and concluding at 12:10 p.m. 

Flex block, which has since been removed from the schedule, was a period in which students would check into their classes via Zoom or Google Meet while in another class in order to prevent constant moving from class to class. “Flex block was to support intervention and provide additional support with shortened time; it created another passing time. Issues with tech and connectivity, and having a lot at the same time [were some problems that arose].  It had students zooming into several classes at a time to create a more cohesive schedule while getting additional instructional time,” said Harmon. This confused many students and staff and has been removed in replacement of a new schedule, which was put in place October 15. The new schedule has homeroom periods added before the last block of the day.

Many students faced challenges with their schedules, which often resulted in classes being cut. “I’m only in four classes this year because of the cuts. I like the timing of the classes. The hardest part to adjust to is being at home all week.” said Ashlee Sarkinen, who is in Cohort D. The school schedule has been a source of many changes and after its many trials and errors, Harmon believes they finally got it right. “Different drafts of the new version were shared to the staff in order to make adjustments. Right now we don’t anticipate changes. If something comes up but I haven’t heard any of that, we will get feedback and input as needed, so I’m not saying no,” said Harmon.

Although there were bumps in the road, many students found both positives and negatives out of their newfound normalcy. “I like having fewer classes a day so I don’t have to bring so many binders and notebooks each day,” said Senior Cayleigh Malone, who is in Cohort B. “Let us pick when we wanted to come to school rather than assign it, that would have made it easier when people wanted to change cohorts. This year is so much harder and I’m glad most of the teachers are being sympathetic about it.” said Malone.