Student and administration react to the updated five-day schedule

The introduction of a new schedule has led to different learning, so how has this affected students?


Photo courtesy of Mr. Maniglia

Students arriving to school in September 2020

Mkenna Wimberly, Student Life Writer

After the much needed spring break, RV initiated a full five-day schedule for in-person students. While the half-day school times remain, cohorts have been combined and the Wednesday cleaning/flex day has been eliminated. Many students have opted into this new schedule, but the option to be fully remote still exists. 

The loosening of COVID regulations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allowed such a schedule to be put in place. According to recent changes in COVID safety recommendations, physical social distancing may be reduced from six feet to three feet.

“A lot of the classrooms are really crowded. One of my biggest classes is 19 students and the desks are so close together,” said one sophomore who is in-person but wished to remain anonymous. “The halls between blocks and in the cafeteria are also really crowded, especially when you’re leaving. Everyone crowds around the doors and you’re touching a bunch of people you don’t know.”

Apart from the crowdedness of the school, many students believe that the larger classes made them feel as though the world was returning to normal. “I chose to be in-person because I missed socializing with my friends and being able to interact with other people,” said the sophomore. “I like having five days over two because there [are] more people and it actually feels like a classroom. When I was virtual, I felt as though the teachers were talking to themselves and it was extremely awkward, boring, and hard to concentrate.”

“At the time that we were choosing to be virtual, I hadn’t been vaccinated yet. I live with my grandparents and I wasn’t willing to risk anything for their health,” said one fully-remote student who also elected to remain anonymous. “However, now that I am fully vaccinated, I will be in-person next year.” When asked whether they felt being virtual was better, he responded, “It’s much easier since you have more time. You don’t have to spend all that time going in between classes, which gives you a chance to actually get things done. I thought RV changing to five days wouldn’t affect me as much, but it really did. Almost none of my teachers pay attention to any of the kids on virtual so we never know what they’re talking about. Since there are only eight kids virtual, if that, they don’t see the need to focus on us as much. It’s frustrating, but I like not having to wake up at six in the morning to catch a bus.” 

Principal Martin spoke of his full support of the new schedule. Although the executive decision was made by the superintendent, both Mr. Martin and Dr. Heilig advocated for the students and staff of RV when the idea of five days was proposed.

“The number one thing for me is the guidance from the Burlington County health department. Between them and the CDC, I feel like they are the experts,” Mr. Martin said. “They are the professionals that helped guide our decision.”

Regarding safety precautions and sanitation stations, Mr. Martin believes the school is taking all possible measures to keep everyone safe. “We have the school setup with safety precautions, but the variables we cannot control are what happens outside of school. There’s a direct correlation between how responsible individuals are outside of school and what happens in school. In terms of school, we are continuously refilling hand sanitizers, constantly supplying masks, doing temperature checks, and continuing to do our COVID clearance forms. We’ve also opened opportunities for both teachers, staff and students to get vaccinated if they would like to.”

Many students have been enjoying the shortened days, as have the staff. Mr. Martin emphasized the importance of these days. “We felt it was important to adhere to an abbreviated schedule for two reasons: Less exposure in general and when we end our day at 12:32, it’s good for all parties, both teachers and students.”

Mr. Martin and the administrative team have seen what they believe to be the positive aspects of changing to a full-week schedule both for educational and social purposes, while acknowledging the downsides of having both in-person and online students. 

“As a parent of three kids, I wanted my kids to come in person, although they did a really good job online, the educational opportunities and social opportunities for them and their friends increase when they’re in-person,” said Mr. Martin. “What I really love is that we have a choice right now. Some kids are immunocompromised or have someone at home who isn’t well, and we don’t want them to bring something home. That’s why the choice is very important, and I like it as a parent.” 

Thus far, there have been no major outbreaks at the school, save for a few smaller exposures on spring sports teams. Overall, seeing people in the halls at the end of the year is a welcome sight for many.