Wednesdays are notorious for being full of exhaustion: motivation from Monday is long gone, and the weekend is nowhere in sight. However, with the asynchronous Wednesday schedule that Berkeley High School (BHS) implemented before May, the so-called hump day provided a short break from the chaos of the week. Unfortunately, this welcome respite has recently been revoked.
After transitioning to the changes that come with some students returning to in-person classes, those who opted out of hybrid learning were asked to adjust once more. With only six weeks left in the school year, BHS has required that students who are unable or uninterested in participating in the hybrid schedule join synchronous Wednesday classes. Even ignoring the adjustment period, the new schedule offers little benefit for overworked students.
Attending the required three plus hours of Zoom meetings five days a week isn’t healthy for anyone. The exhaustion students feel after endless virtual classes isn’t just limited to the educational sphere. The phenomenon is so prevalent worldwide that it’s earned a name: Zoom fatigue. Within the context of a global crisis, students are already emotionally drained, and days of Zoom with no break only adds to that.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), spending hours on a video call requires significantly more focus than in-person interaction. Over the long term, it can impact one’s ability to concentrate and stay engaged. This exhaustion doesn’t just affect psychological health, but it’s also detrimental to concentration and overall productivity. Having Wednesdays off to rest and rejuvenate, students are more attentive in virtual classes for the remainder of the week.
Because students had less than a week to prepare for the change, they had limited time to rearrange outside commitments. Between caring for younger siblings and juggling jobs and extracurriculars, many students at BHS feel the burden of this extra day of class greatly.
Virtually every system students depended on before the pandemic has changed, and now that includes scheduling consistency. Normalcy is already near impossible to cultivate during a pandemic, and these constant changes are only exacerbating the issue. School schedules helped create a feeling of stability in an otherwise tumultuous world, so all changes made must be worthwhile.
Unfortunately, for many students, the required class time has limited value. Most teachers have used the class time as a study hall for students to get additional support, complete asynchronous assignments, and prepare for the following classes. While some students benefit from this time, many others are content to complete the work independently on a more flexible schedule. Additionally, teachers are required to divide their attention across the class, which prevents them from focusing on the students who need support. By making Wednesday classes available but optional, the administration could target the students who would benefit while allowing others to use their time more productively.
Many students have used the flexibility of virtual learning to figure out what they need to be most productive, whether it be extracurricular enrichment, support classes, or an extra day of rest. With this in mind, the BHS administration must give students more agency in determining what works best for their individual needs and conflicts, and that comes in the form of scheduling.