A New School Schedule

Due to the dangers of Covid-19, the majority of schools in the state of Illinois thought it best to start the 2020-2021 school year completely online. Benet Academy, on the other hand, with its small student population, has decided to go forth and implement the hybrid model: a combination of remote learning and in-person learning. The fact that it is now October and students at Benet are still physically going to school proves that social distancing and other preventive measures that Benet faculty have enforced are working well. The hybrid model calls for a fifty percent reduction of people in the building per day, split up by last names, which contributes greatly to the success of this new system. Teachers at the Academy have taken one of two teaching approaches to this situation to teach and communicate their content to students in the most effective way. Some teachers have adopted the synchronous model of teaching which requires daily zoom-ins for remote students. It consists of real-time participation and interaction every day whether you are physically in school or remote. Other teachers have adopted the collegiate model. For the collegiate model, teachers provide materials and information for students to learn on their own and then teach the same lesson two days in a row to both alphabetical groups. Students can complete these assignments at their own pace. This flexibility allows for introductory as well as review assignments to be done at home. 

In surveying students from all grade levels for their opinions on this new schedule, specifically those regarding the transition back to a somewhat normal schedule, many spoke of the difficulties associated with adapting to a new norm. “At first, the transition was a little rough because it was hard getting back into the routine of going to school since the last time we were fully at school was in March.” said one anonymous student. As the weeks passed, the once new schedule became the new normal. Another student surveyed said. “It was at first very different to have only half the school and way smaller class sizes, but I actually grew to like it.”  The collegiate model also prepares students for less structured courses and jobs, and as one student stated, “It definitely is more beneficial because it has helped me practice my time management skills for the future.” Although most took a little while to adjust, the students are happy and excited they can physically attend class and interact with their peers and teachers. On the topic of the model of teaching, most teachers are using the collegiate model as their style of teaching this year and students actually prefer this model over the synchronous. Based on the responses, students prefer the collegiate model because they like to have a set list of work to do at their own pace and have the freedom to do their assignments when they choose. Concerning the synchronous model, one student said “Sometimes it seems like the zoom calls tend to be unproductive. This makes our situation a little more stressful because if we have to attend a mandatory Zoom, there’s usually additional homework that needs to be completed that day.” Some students find it harder to learn and pay attention to Zoom and, because of this, prefer the collegiate model over the synchronous model. Considering the unprecedented times the entire country is facing right now, Benet Academy has done a noteworthy job of making sure there is a sense of normalcy for its students, whether they are physically in school or at home.