BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Governor Livingston adopted the latest change in its schedule to begin the second marking period on November 9. While the school will remain fully remote until December 7 after a COVID-19 outbreak closed the school for 14 days, the students will follow the new schedule virtually.
Dr. Melissa Varley and school administration sent out a survey a few weeks prior to the decision to learn students’ perspectives on the possible changes. In the letter to the community, Dr. Varley said, “The good news is that overwhelmingly the collective group of s]\tudents from 6-12 opted to move to a six period rotate and drop.”
Formerly, the schedule consisted of eight blocks rotating throughout eight days with four classes in the morning and four classes in the afternoon. With the adoption of the new schedule, students returned to the traditional schedule of six classes a day and a four-day rotation.
In both the hybrid and remote settings, classes will be completed before breaking for lunch at 12:30. After lunch, students will have the ability to get extra help or make-up missed work during two time slots, which are also designated for any lab classes depending on a schedule-by-schedule basis.
Returning to the traditional drop schedule is something that students are relieved about, especially because there is a new flexibility in completing their assignments, giving more time to understand the material.
Regarding the schedule modification, senior Abby McLaughlin said, “I am most looking forward to dropping two classes every day. I think students and teachers will appreciate the extra time to decompress.”
Assistant Principal Jaqueline Bartlett believes that moving back to the traditional schedule will also help students who are already suffering from a worsening of their mental health. Bartlett, who runs the school’s Wellness Workshops, along with support from guidance staff, stressed that the afternoon will provide flexible time to check in with students as well as continuing to provide opportunities for students to de-stress and relax.
She said, “I'm hoping that the new schedule provides us more opportunities to touch base with students to do more wellness activities and have those mindfulness workshops as well.”
While these changes are aimed to help students overall, some students are more skeptical of the changes. Junio Nick Gold, who plays basketball, noted his fears about how the change may affect his academics.
“The schedule is actually beneficial, I see all my teachers so I get to ask them questions so I don't fall behind,” Gold said.
“I'm going to have to try to stay on top of my work so it's just going to be a big change,” Gold said, anticipating the upcoming season and having fewer classes per day.
With the current stressful overlap between getting integrated into the new school year and managing education during a pandemic, many schools are going through trial and error. As unexpected situations arise, the schedule is subject to more changes and this is only a tentative solution.
Principal Robert Nixon says administration has to juggle new ideas that will make school safe and pleasant for the students. He said, “Based on my feedback and observations, having more classes in person is more effective as opposed to four every day and requiring live afternoon attendance. I questioned how we could do this better.”
As many Governor Livingston students and teachers had voiced their complaints about the stressful eight-period school days, Nixon and the other administrators listened and began drafting ideas.
“My main goal is to prevent the learning gaps that come with rushed afternoon periods,” he said. “We are trying to gradually return to tradition as we are more efficient and effective that way.”
Nixon concluded by saying that, as everything sparks from a single idea, we are still adjusting and open to change during the course of the school year.
Overall, student and faculty responses to the schedule modifications have been primarily positive. Though it is the fourth schedule change of the year, it is certainly not going to be the last for Governor Livingston.