Mixed reaction to A/B schedule


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

Victoria Bruckler, Staff Writer

This previously ran in our September 2021 print issue.

For the third time in three years, Emmaus has changed the bell schedule for students — but perhaps the third time isn’t the charm for some. 

After confirming students would be back in the building five days a week for the 2021-22 school year, the district unveiled the A/B schedule to replace last year’s hybrid, online semester schedule. And with it, block scheduling.

  One of the biggest adjustments students and teachers are going through is the new 80-minute periods. The last time school had a sense of normalcy, classes lasted 42 minutes a day. Even though last year’s blocks lasted 60 minutes, this year has proved to be trying for students and staff alike.

Emmaus senior, Samatha Zuzzolo, said it’s a struggle adjusting to the length of classes.

“It’s too long, my mind starts to wander as listening to the same thing gets extremely boring,” Zuzzolo said. 

Alex Kempner, a senior, admits that there is a struggle of trying to pay attention in the new schedule, but he finds a nice balance with A/B. 

“I spend more time in class which makes it feel meaningful,” he said, “and it’s every other day. I like switching up the classes on a day-to-day basis.”

Several Emmaus teachers have a pretty good outlook on the A/B schedule. Since they have to now adjust their plans to being longer while trying to keep everyone engaged in the lesson. 

Emmaus math teacher Shannon Wasilewski shared her adjustment process to the long periods.

I have had to get creative in my lesson planning in order to cover more topics in one class but also break up the class to keep my students engaged and retain the information,” Wasilewski said. 

Science teacher Corinna Kramer-Hinks already had the advantage of adjusting to 80-minute periods because she taught labs during double-block sessions under the old nine-period schedule.

“I like 80-minute periods, but they are not unusual for science teachers since we are used to having double lab periods,” Kramer-Hinks said. “Eighty-minute periods allow for science teachers to complete labs in one day rather than splitting a lab between two days.” 

Another adjustment to the A/B schedule has been having certain classes on A days and then having other classes on B days. Due dates get mixed up easily, and having a class Friday and not having it again till Tuesday makes trying to remember the lesson harder. However, there are pros to the classes being every other day for students and teachers.

A problem that has resulted from having every other day classes is having assignments due on the day students don’t have classes.

“Most of my teachers have had stuff due on days we had the classes next, but some wanted work due on days we didn’t have class, which is very confusing,” Deppe said. 

Psychology teacher Danielle Walsh’s biggest problem has been trying to learn her student names and putting a name to the face.

“I don’t feel that I know my students very well at all, which is unusual for me,” Walsh said. “The masks make it difficult because we’re only seeing part of the face.”

“Aside from that, the every other day cycle places a gap in putting names with faces, and for me, that’s detrimental,” she said. 

Kramer-Hinks has the same problem: “It has taken me longer to get to know the students since I see different students every other day. Masks do not help either because I cannot see the students’ faces.”

Another factor is having a student absent on the day they have the class trying to plan make-up tests now is a bit more difficult.

“It’s difficult when students are absent and need to make up tests or work.” Walsh said.

Besides the 80 long periods everyone has been adjusting to and classes every other day, the biggest adjustment has been the length of the third period, which now runs 148 minutes to allow for the 30-minute lunch.

If there’s one part of the schedule that Kempner dislikes, it’s the third block.

“I’m not a fan of it because of how the periods are very long, especially third period, halfway or three-quarters through,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty bored and don’t really listen well for the rest of the period.”