by MARY WURZBACHER '23
As you all know, COVID-19 has completely changed the world, from school to work to eating out. The change this article is going to focus on is Saint Ursula’s brand new, COVID-friendly schedule and how the teachers, students, and administration are adjusting and learning to focus on the positive aspects
To see how the teaching staff felt about the new changes, I asked Mrs. Mollaun. She's been teaching for 22 years, is the head of the social studies department, and is a graduate of Saint Ursula herself. The department chairs were first told of different schedule options, then they discussed the pros and cons of each option with the other teachers in their department. After the departmental discussions, the heads had a meeting with the administration to voice their opinions. This new schedule keeps even experienced teachers, like
Mrs. Mollaun, on their toes and focused as they adapt to these new changes. In spite of over two decades of teaching experience, she said that she, and other teachers, were completely thrown for a loop by the new schedule. She noted that "the school is going above and beyond as far as sanitizing and cleaning,” and the schedule is keeping all of us safe. She also remarked that the academic advising time is a great addition to have during the school day, especially now since students are seeing their teachers less. One negative aspect of the schedule that she mentioned is the fact that teachers have had to cut down on extra materials and activities that are non-essential to understanding the class. She said that seeing her classes only twice a week has been hard, and although the 100 minutes are not as tedious as she had anticipated, the 80 minutes were much preferred. The adjustment between the two amounts of time has been the hardest part for her.
The teaching staff aren’t the only people adjusting, though; the student body is also adapting to the significant changes. I sent out a school-wide survey, and 50% of the 239 responders said they liked the new schedule, 12% of students said they did not like it, and 37% reported having mixed emotions. An overwhelming number of students said they prefer waking up later and finishing the school day early because they had more time to do homework, which helps them to be less stressed and go to bed earlier. On a less positive note, 24% of students said the break was too short to make up for their 100 minute classes, which 33% said were too long. Many girls have stated that they don’t like not having a lunch or as much time with their friends; the silver lining of this, however, is that we are able to wear t-shirts and college gear. With that there’s only one group left: the administration.
The administrative staff are the ultimate decision-makers, so it seems only right to interview one of them. I chose to interview the most frequent enforcer of COVID-19 rules: Mr. Moran. They were tasked with balancing academics, safety, and social elements, in no particular order. Their main ways of balancing those health concerns are online Wednesdays to provide the school with a deep clean in the middle of the week and limiting contact by reducing class changes that bring hallway interaction. Wednesdays were also intended to serve as a check in for each class midweek. The academic advising bell was to “give students the tools so they can be successful”. Their workload has increased, but new concerns such as mask guidelines and social distancing have emerged. The administration is remaining flexible and open to change so that they can keep students and staff safe as the number of cases fluctuate.
This new schedule seems to be keeping everyone on their toes, but in our new and ever-changing world that just might be the new normal.