Weighing the Pros and Cons of Returning Full Time

By Carmen Caserio ’22

As I’m sure we’ve all heard, we will be returning to our original full day schedule for in-person instruction on Monday, March 15th. As the faculty of Saint Ignatius prepares to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations, Dr. Fior has announced the stunning news in order to wrap up the 2020-2021 school year. However, with a year filled with hectic twists and turns, is reverting back to our original schedule the best option?

Following COVID-19 protocols and aiming to provide students with some semblance of a school year, the faculty of Saint Ignatius shocked students and parents with the announcement of a half-day schedule over the summer, with students being alphabetically assigned to the Gonzaga group or the Xavier group and having varying schedules. In conjunction with the already uncanny circumstances created by COVID-19, skepticism surrounded the 2020-2021 school year even before it started. However, the half-day schedule was able to provide students with the one thing that they were not having before: in-person instruction. Thus, students and parents came to accept the unusual schedule. 

Since then, this schedule has governed our 2020-2021 school year, save the period during which we reverted to our online schedule. In doing so, the half-day schedule has prevented large and consistent outbreaks of COVID-19 by creating smaller class sizes and limiting the amount of students on campus at one time, allowing students to continue in-person learning. Students and teachers have been able to settle into a comfortable rhythm with the rotation of “A days” and “B days.” Furthermore, students have come to appreciate the late start that accompanies days on which students have afternoon classes. Thus, one must ask the question if returning back to our original full-time schedule is truly in everyone’s best interest.

When the half-day schedule was announced for the 2020-2021 school year, students were not the only people that were surprised. Parents were taken aback to be paying the full $18,000 tuition for a school year during which their children would only be attending school for half of the time. Therefore, shouldn’t they have been given a discount? Nevertheless, by returning back to full-time instruction, parents will be at least given half a semester’s worth of their money back. With their children able to have the final quarter of their school year full-time, parents will not have to worry about whether or not they wasted their money. While we as students may not acknowledge this, parents definitely will be satisfied to see that we will be returning to our original schedule.

In addition, as one of the most obvious benefits, the full-time schedule will allow teachers more time for in-person instruction. While the half-day schedule only allows teachers to meet with their students for either two or three times a week, the full-time schedule will allow teachers to meet with their students every single day of the week.

Not only that, as mentioned above, the half-day schedule fractured the entire student body, with students with last names beginning with A-L not able to see students with last names beginning with M-Z in the same class. Thus, with the implementation of the full-time schedule, students will be able to regularly see their friends that they have not been able to see since the outset of the school year.

In a year filled with anxiety and uncertainty, reverting to the full-time schedule brings back some pretense of things returning back to normal. Moreover, the full-time schedule is able to provide seniors with a somewhat typical end to their tenure at Saint Ignatius. Being separated by the half-day schedule, the full-time schedule permits seniors to enjoy their last hurrah of high school.

Finally, the full-time schedule will force students to stay accountable for their work. As the half-day schedule permitted students to have a considerable amount of free time both before and after school, depending on their schedule for the day, the full-time schedule will force students to stay on top of their work. While students may not see this as a benefit, this circumstance will force students to manage their time well, a quality that is necessary for success in life.

While the full-time schedule certainly carries some benefits, there additionally remains a list of disadvantages. For starters, students will be forced to remain within the six feet of social distancing in order to fit the full capacity of students in the classroom and around campus. While three feet of distancing may be guaranteed, the risk for a COVID-19 is exponentially higher with the full-time schedule.

Furthermore, as extreme changes have already occurred, including the announcement of next year’s new and improved schedule, retaining some semblance of consistency might be in the best interest of everyone. Reverting from the full-time schedule last year to the half-day schedule this year to the online schedule back in November and December, students are looking to keep things the same to finish out the chaotic 2020-2021 school year.

Though seen as a benefit in the eyes of some, the return to the full-time schedule will take away the significant amount of free time that has been afforded to students under the half-time schedule. With classes either in the morning or the afternoon, students have had the opportunity to sleep in on some days and leave school early on others. The implementation of a full-time schedule will force students to arrive at school on time in the morning and leave at the conclusion of the school day every single day of the week.

In addition, why fix something that isn’t broken? As students and teachers have adapted to the new schedule, no significant problems have come to light in the midst of our half-day schedule. While some may say that there lies a significant problem for students not being able to be in class as much, online resources have allowed students to be able to become self-sufficient. Whereas in-person instruction is preferred to self-learning, self-sufficiency is another skill that everyone needs to succeed in life.

Lastly, as teachers have assigned students higher amounts of homework based on the limitations imposed by the lack of class time, the return to the full-time schedule will create a disparity between whether or not teachers will provide the same amount of work. As the full-time schedule will give students less time to finish their assignments, we will have to rely on our teachers to understand our situation and provide a reasonable, though not inordinate amount of homework. However, there lies a significant amount of uncertainty about how classes will continue based on the return to the full-time schedule.

Though the half-day schedule provides a transient solution given the circumstances, it is by no means a permanent solution. Thus, for the time being, the half-day schedule seems to be the best route to be taking as a school. While we may debate whether or not this is the best decision for the faculty of Saint Ignatius to be making, we as students will have no control over what happens on March 15th. Therefore, we will have to do what we have been doing for the past year: cope.