New distance learning schedule yields excessive break time

To limit students’ screen time during distance learning, Diamond Bar High School has readjusted its bell schedule, making classes significantly shorter. In addition to this alteration, there’s a new time slot called tutorial, that allows students to seek help from teachers when needed. However, this new schedule seriously disrupts sixth period science classes and needs to be revised.

Currently, classes are 40-minutes long with a five minute break in between each one to allow students time to prepare for their next class. Originally, AP science classes were given 81 minutes worth of class time to fit in lessons and labs. With this new schedule, an extra 20 minutes is allotted to these courses, which are held at the beginning and end of the school day in extended periods called 1A and 6A. 

 This means that students with a 1A class start school 20 minutes earlier for a total of one hour of uninterrupted learning. For students taking AP science at the end of the day, things aren’t so smooth. Tutorial and lunch interrupt their class time, meaning that what should have been a one-hour period is split into 40 and 20 minute intervals with a two-hour break.

Needless to say, two hours is an unreasonable amount of time for students to be on break from a single class. Compared to first period AP science classes, which can go through lessons efficiently and uninterrupted, those with a 6A are at a clear disadvantage.

After a two-hour break, anyone–teachers and students alike–would need a few minutes to recollect themselves and continue on with the lesson. Add to this the time it takes for students to return to the call and for instructors to take roll, and almost a fourth of the remaining class time has already passed. 

Not to mention that the 40-minute period on its own feels evanescent, as most teachers can’t cover full lessons on advanced courses in such a short time frame. Keeping that in mind, it is completely nonsensical to expect students to gain much from a mere 20 minutes of extra instruction. The splitting of sixth period is highly dependent not only on how quickly students can readjust and focus after a long break, but also how quickly a teacher can resume a lesson.

Additionally, this extensive break has the potential to devastate a course’s curriculum. Students with a 6A may lose significant instructional time while transitioning into the second half of their class, causing them to fall behind on certain lessons. This will have a lasting impact on students because, if in-class learning resumes this year, first period classes may be further ahead than their 6A counterparts.

Although the problem of different classes on the same subject moving through the curriculum at varying paces is somewhat common during traditional school, this is a more pressing concern during distance learning. Students are already working with condensed, diluted lessons and materials. Due to their fast-paced nature, AP courses can’t afford to have such a prolonged break that could put students’ learning potential at risk. 

To resolve this issue, the school should extend 6A into the designated tutorial period. At an hour and a half in length, tutorial is needlessly long. This is more than enough time for all students, even those who would miss the first 20 minutes because of a 6A, to discuss lessons with teachers if necessary. 

Furthermore, students have more methods to contact teachers than ever before. The school should set protocols or direct channels of communication so that students have no issue getting in touch with teachers, whether it be to schedule a meeting during tutorial or to ask a quick question over email. 

Ultimately, moving the remaining 20 minutes of AP science courses into tutorial would be more fair to all students regardless of what classes they are taking.