The new academic schedule for the 2020-2021 school year was released on July 10 after being prematurally published on PAnet and subsequently removed in late June. The schedule includes two 45-minute synchronous meetings for each course, co-curricular activity slots in both the morning and afternoon, and the addition of academic blocks in the evening. No student will be required to attend class from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. in their respective time zone. According to Clyfe Beckwith, Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning, the schedule was made to accommodate both on-campus and remote learners.
“The Dean of Studies office, in consultation with academic leaders, planned for a remote first approach for the fall term—planning for the fall term already began in April—for the ability to go all online, go all in-person, accommodate a mix of both, and accommodate any student (and teacher) that needed to start one and end with the other. Spring term taught us that we needed to incorporate synchronous classes for stronger relationship-building, for structure in the day, and for social interaction. Accommodating our student population in different time zones is why we added classes in the evening band,” wrote Beckwith in an email to The Phillipian.
Although evening classes were added for students in different time zones, any student can expect to have these classes in their schedule. Students with evening classes will have time during the day to complete homework assignments, according to Beckwith, who co-chaired the Faculty Task Force responsible for creating the Fall Term schedule.
Beckwith believes that students are bound to have different academic experiences depending on whether they learn remotely or in person. However, the Task Force elected to make classes a combination of remote and in-person students to preserve the diversity of perspectives in the classroom.
“A student learning remotely will have a different experience than a student learning on campus; only all online off campus or all on campus could assure the same experience,” wrote Beckwith.
Beckwith continued, “One hallmark of Andover education is its diversity and the benefit of having many perspectives in the conversation; we strived to maintain that diversity and allow for a student to still be part of the same cohort if there needed to be a change in the student’s status in the middle of the term.”
Other changes to the schedule include the specific implementation of the Empathy, Balance, and Inclusion (EBI) program into the schedule and a block for co-curricular programming from 7:00 to 7:45 a.m. Each EBI class will meet during one of the five available periods. The co-curricular programming in the morning was created for students who, because of their time zones, would be unable to attend extracurriculars in the afternoon.
In the schedule released on PAnet in June, there was an additional schedule designed for three-day weeks. This additional schedule was not included in Andover’s official reopening plans, but can be found now on PAnet. According to Beckwith, the three-day schedule will be implemented during long weekends and holidays.
“For the 28 years I have been at the academy we have had long weekends in the middle of a term, or a special schedule that meant there were not five days of classes during the week. In our current schedule, when we do not have five days of classes we will have an adjusted schedule for a three-day week. They are marked on the yearly calendar to be posted ASAP,” wrote Beckwith.
Even if the pandemic is contained and social distancing restrictions are curbed, Beckwith believes that a return to the previous schedule is unlikely.
“[Returning to the previous schedule] is an option we will weigh and decide when we know more; the calendar we choose would allow for that if public health analysis makes such a move feasible. Some families may choose before the year starts for their child to be an off-campus learner for the entire year, which makes a switch in the middle of the year more unlikely,” wrote Beckwith.