By Kosta Magoulas
For the 2020-2021 Howard County School year system, schools have been following a 4×4 schedule with no midterms and finals for students. This system allows students to take four classes per semester, which would account for one full year of course credit. In each semester, there are two quarters, each accounting for essentially half of the student’s grade. Overall, there has been some ambivalence about the virtual system and many feel more stressed as well.
The plan for this school year originally intended for students to be in an online environment for the first semester, and would allow them to come back to school the second semester in a hybrid model, but this has recently been updated; The Board of Education voted 5-2 to keep virtual learning in place until mid-April, the end of the third quarter.
With everything being online now and COVID-19 cases still on the rise, people are starting to worry about the future of this school year. Continuing with the current online model was the safest option available to the Board of Education. However, negative effects of this system on teachers and students are becoming apparent.
“I do not like the 4 x 4 schedule for this school year because the material we would normally learn in a full school year is now crammed into one semester,” commented senior, William Lee. “This means there is less time to learn and understand the material. This would also mean there is more work to do in a shorter amount of time.”
Classes being confined to one semester is bound to make things feel rushed and more stressful. Schools in Howard County made classes two semesters long in the past to help balance the amount of content students are supposed to learn in a given time, but with these new policies in place, many are feeling disoriented.
“I feel like it requires students to move on to a new topic before they have fully grasped the concepts. However, I think having seven classes simultaneously would be too much for students. From a teacher’s perspective, having fewer students allows me to give more personalized feedback on assignments,” said Mrs. Dickie, a math teacher at Hammond High School.
A few students told us what they wanted to see implemented into next year’s school system if our current pandemic situation remains the same:
“I would like to add office hours during Wednesday because I will have questions on work on Tuesday but I can get them answered till Thursday. I enjoyed having four classes at a time. Not only does it give us an extra class but it lets us focus on four classes at a time instead of seven,” said Julien Basso, a senior at Hammond High School.
Colin Ward, a sophomore, noted, “Having a less lunch break so we can finish the day earlier would be better, and definitely keeping the 4×4 system so we have [fewer] classes at a time.”
The Board of Education and Howard County as a whole is doing the best they can to help provide students with the best learning experience capable under pandemic circumstances. As demonstrated by the voices of many students, further changes will be needed in the future. Students and faculty members should still try to do their best and adapt because it looks like the future of the education system is changing.