One of the endless changes that has come with the pandemic is the addition of an asynchronous workday in the weekly school schedule. FCPS first announced this plan over the summer and students and faculty are slowly getting in the groove of this new routine. It was added in order to give teachers a chance to hold meetings and office hours, and students time to complete independent learning. Many benefits have come from this change, but some concerns are arising.
One conceived benefit is that students are given a great amount of independence in terms of planning out their workday. This added component of independence can help students develop time management skills and relieve stress. Senior Leah Schulman, for example, likes to make the most out of her asynchronous days by getting out of the house.
“I typically wake up between 9:30-10:00 and eat breakfast, and then I get started on my homework. I work for a couple of hours and then sometimes I will go to lunch or a cafe with my friends and continue working there,” Schulman said. “I go to Georgetown a lot with my friends and we do work there, especially on days when there is nice weather.”
Schulman has conflicting opinions about the inclusion of an asynchronous workday this year.
“I like that we don’t have school on Monday because it’s more relaxing,” Schulman said. “On the other hand, I also don’t like it because teachers give a lot of homework over the weekend and it piles up and it gets kind of stressful.”
Mr. Henry, a history teacher at Langley, expressed how the addition of an asynchronous day can be useful for students.
“I think under the schedule format that we have adopted due to the Covid-19 pandemic it is a good idea. If used properly by students (that means putting in a full day of work on Monday!) it should allow them to get a majority of their weekly asynchronous work done – freeing up weekends and evenings,” Henry said. “The ability to hold staff meetings and meet with teachers to plan curriculum is helpful.”
A drawback to this schedule that worries many is the challenge it imposes on classes to cover all of the necessary material in time for standardized testing, specifically AP exams.
“We have lost a significant amount of class time overall. Previously we had either 180 or 270 minutes of class time a week, depending on how the class fell in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday schedule that week, with each section. We now only get a total 160 minutes a week in a virtual meeting with each section,” Henry said. “Along with the fact that we started later in the year and the restrictions that come with the virtual setting, I do worry about the impact it will have on what we are able to accomplish this year.”
Overall, asynchronous days seem to be a good fit for this school year, but when it comes down to it, the benefits do not outweigh the loss of valuable class time.
“I think the asynchronous concept works in our current schedule,” Henry said. “But I think that I would prefer the extra class time if given a choice.”