Recently, Belmont Hill announced its plan to return to in-person learning five days a week immediately following Spring Break in March. This change will keep the current long block schedule on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; the only difference is that virtual Wednesdays will now also be in-person, again keeping the same Wednesday class block schedule. Although this learning adjustment will contribute to a sense of normalcy returning to school, many students appreciate the value of virtual Wednesdays in breaking up the otherwise tedious school week.
There is no question that one of the most resounding differences between regular years at Belmont Hill and these unprecedented times is taking classes at school five days a week. Although Zoom offers a sufficient substitute for in-person instruction (or, in the very least, for the flow of information if not social life), nothing beats direct contact between students and faculty. Teaching, learning, and fostering relationships come much more naturally, and being in-person is much more beneficial than staring at someone through a computer screen.
With the return to a five-day in-person schedule, both students and faculty alike may expect an increased sense of normalcy on campus. Without Zoom Wednesdays to break up the week, more meaningful interactions can take place between students and faculty, as meeting three times a week in-person presents many more opportunities to check in about academics or have conversations outside of the classroom. In addition, having class in-person for the extra day will increase academic engagement. Learning in the classroom is much more natural to participate in than staring at someone through a computer screen, and learning at home may present more distractions and opportunities to zone out. Finally, having every class meet on campus in a single day will heighten the sense of normalcy, as 40 minute periods will occur in-person for the first time since March of last year.
Although the schedule adjustment to accommodate having school on campus during Wednesday classes will be advantageous in numerous ways, many students look forward to online days to break up the otherwise physically and mentally exhausting school week. Having one day at home offers students a chance to recharge after a draining two days in school, affording time to sleep in and get more work done than usual school days. Moreover, not all teachers decide to synchronize their classes, instead electing to assign asynchronous work for students to complete individually. This may mean students have as little as two or three classes during online Wednesdays, allotting more time for students to pursue hobbies or other interests outside of the classroom; this is hugely beneficial for mental health, especially in these times where social interaction can be difficult.
In conclusion, returning on campus in place of virtual Wednesday classes has many benefits and drawbacks too. Although the new schedule offers a better learning environment and affords more time for student-faculty interaction outside of the classroom, many students look forward to a day at home to break up the long school week, using the time to recharge and get ahead on work. However, even with the disadvantages of returning to school full-time, it would encourage everyone that the COVID pandemic is in decline, and that there is a light at the end of this virus-infected tunnel.