This past week, Severn announced that they are making some big changes to the hybrid school day. As of Monday, October 5th, six-class days will be eliminated and the original schedule will return. Also, on Monday, November 2nd, students in school will be required to return to dress code with the exception of footwear. This information came in an email to students in an email from Mr. Soden on Wednesday, September 23rd. Upon hearing the news, I sent out a survey to Severn Upper School students to hear their thoughts on these new changes.
Severn Upper School students seemed to be fairly split between liking and disliking the new hybrid schedule. The most common responses when asked about the new hybrid schedule was that many students were thankful that they are able to be in school even if its only a few days but days when we had six classes was particularly grueling. Many students responded that the days on zoom were much harder and more tiring compared to days in school due to the limited free time during the day. Students expressed the need for more zoom breaks because looking at a screen for so many hours during the day has been causing headaches and lots of strain on the eyes. The spring schedule was frequently mentioned and applauded for its appropriate amount of free time for students during the day. Many students criticized the new schedule for cutting lunch in half. Numerous students mentioned that A-Period and lunch are frequently used to do homework and now that that time is cut and students are finding that teachers are assigning more homework than usual, students are feeling very stressed and drained at the end of the day. If the Upper School Students could agree on one change, it would be to get rid of days with six classes. Returning to the old schedule is a good choice on Severn’s part and many students will be relieved to have more free time and less zoom during the day.
While many students are applauding Severn’s returning to the old schedule, many disagree with Severn’s plan to return to dress code. 78.2% of students agreed that Severn should continue in free dress. That is 172 out of 220 students. Students are finding that they are able to express themselves more in free dress and there is more room for individuality in the Severn community if Severn students are able to wear what they want. Also, from a safety standpoint, many students have expressed their worries about being able to wash their uniforms everyday which may pose a problem for COVID restrictions and concerns. Students who agreed to return to wearing uniforms explained that getting ready in the morning takes longer when you have to pick out a new outfit and uniforms are easier. Also, students that spent money on more clothes because they were expecting to be in free dress for a majority of the year are frustrated that they spent money on clothes that will not be worn. Not only is free dress more comfortable and a preference of a majority of students but it is also the safer option in accordance with COVID-19 restrictions.
I also reached out to Mr. Buckley for his position on and reasoning behind these decisions. When asked why Severn is returning to dress code, Mr. Buckley shared that the health department required the closure of locker rooms at the beginning of the year so it would be easier to allow free dress for the time being. Since then, the health department has allowed for locker rooms to reopen with limited capacity so he explained that there is no longer a need for students to be in free dress. Mr. Buckley hopes that returning to dress code will also help Severn return to a sense of normalcy. Also, Mr. Buckley explained that six period days were only instituted to allow for both A and B groups the same amount of days on campus. With the return of the old schedule, small changes will be made to maintain equal times in class and remote between the A and B cohorts. And finally, bucks will not be required to help families avoid needing to purchase a pair of bucks only to be used for the remainder of the year.
Severn has been in a very tough position since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and many members of the Severn community have applauded the schools efforts to safely return to school and a sense of normalcy. Such a world-wide problem has never been experienced before by many of us. According to The Conversation, during the pandemic in 1918, schools reopened with “large, clean, and airy buildings.” Also, according to History.com, masks were also required during the influenza outbreak of 1918 to reduce its spread. Severn is doing the best they can to return to normalcy and has for the most part, been keeping the students interest in mind when making decisions. Overall, Severn has been very strict and appropriate in reopening and complying to COVID restrictions and they have been successful in remaining open during these unprecedented times.
Information Courtesy of The Conversation and History.com.