‘Remote’ Wednesdays: Keep or Delete?

Every+Wednesday%2C+Northport+High+School+students+attend+their+classes+from+their+homes+by+joining+their+classes%27+Google+Meets+at+the++scheduled+times.+%28Credit%3A+Entrepreneur%29

Every Wednesday, Northport High School students attend their classes from their homes by joining their classes’ Google Meets at the scheduled times. (Credit: Entrepreneur)

Ella Piscatello, Freelancer

It isn’t unusual for Northport High School students to wake up minutes before 8:00 on a Wednesday morning. In doing so, they allow themselves just enough time to change out of their pajamas — but likely not enough time to brush their teeth — before they logon to their first class.

Every Wednesday, Northport High School students attend their classes from their homes by joining their classes’ Google Meets at the scheduled times. On any other day of the school week, this situation applies to half the student population, depending on which cohort is in the building and which cohort is at home. But unlike on these other ‘remote’ days, on ‘remote’ Wednesdays each class lasts for only 25 minutes, and the school day ends at 12:25 pm.

During the planning for a hybrid return to school, the Northport-East Northport UFSD sought to empty the buildings mid-week to enable the custodians to conduct comprehensive cleanings, and to provide teachers with time to plan their lessons and consult with their colleagues.

‘Remote’ Wednesdays are also advantageous for students. ‘Remote’ Wednesdays give students the opportunity to go outside, take a break from the screen, and catch up — or get ahead — on assignments.

Many parents, however, find ‘remote’ Wednesdays inconvenient. Some worry about their children staying home alone while they are at work; at the same time, parents working from home may find their children to be a distraction.

While the District has stated its resolve to bring secondary students back to full in-person instruction in January, there are possible obstructions to this plan. Even if the District succeeds in implementing a safe return to full in-person instruction for secondary students, the hybrid model is in place for at least the next month and a half. With that, the District has toyed with the idea of eliminating ‘remote’ Wednesdays and using Wednesday as an alternating day of in-person instruction for each cohort.

In a Port Press survey of 46 Northport High School students from all four grades, 78.3% of participants indicated that they liked ‘remote’ Wednesdays, and 67.4% said that they would prefer ‘remote’ Wednesdays over in-person instruction every other day. When asked to list some negatives of ‘remote’ Wednesdays, eight students said that there were none.

In a Port Press survey of 46 Northport High School students, 78.3% of participants indicated that they liked ‘remote’ Wednesdays. (Ella Piscatello)
In a Port Press survey of 46 Northport High School students, 67.4% of participants indicated that they would prefer ‘remote’ Wednesdays over in-person instruction every other day. (Ella Piscatello)

The other 38 respondents mentioned that downsides of ‘remote’ Wednesdays included abbreviated time for teachers to complete a lesson and teach the material — which contributes to a lack of time devoted to answering questions, the feeling that the teacher is ‘rushing’ through the material, and the assignment of more homework to compensate for the lost teaching time — staring at the screen for two consecutive days, and difficulties with focusing on the material.

Survey participants also described the positives of ‘remote’ Wednesdays. Some of these included reduced screen time (since periods are shortened), time to catch up (or get ahead) on schoolwork, learning as a full class (since both cohorts are on the Google Meet), time to relax and take a break after school, the freedom to eat at any time (which can be challenging with masks in school), the ability to sleep in, and the fact that it is safer to be at home.

Importantly, 18 of the 46 students surveyed claimed that ‘remote’ Wednesdays help to alleviate school-related stress. So while ‘remote’ Wednesdays may result in shorter instruction time, perhaps they are a necessity for students in the hybrid model.