On the Removal of Asynchronous Wednesdays
It has been 376 days since students, teachers and parents had their last day before lockdowns, distancing and masks. Three hundred and seventy-six days later we are still in a pandemic, and even with dropping case rates and a rapid vaccination process, we have to act according to the pandemic that continues to take a toll on all of us.
Regardless of how long it has been and the fact that in a few months time the worst of the pandemic should hopefully be behind us, COVID-19 deaths, suicide, depression, burnout and stress all continue to affect the daily lives of Carlsbad students. We cannot be reckless in our efforts to return to our normal routines.
Today, the Carlsbad Unified School Board will be voting on expanding our return to school from the optional two days a week double cohort model, to the (still optional) five days a week, single cohort model. Most controversially, the Board will be voting on the removal of asynchronous Wednesdays and will have students return to our normal pre-pandemic a/b block schedule.
Students and teachers of Carlsbad High overwhelmingly reject the decision to remove asynchronous Wednesdays as it is insensitive, rash and showcases a complete ignorance of the toll the pandemic and virtual school continues to take on students and teachers.
We respectfully ask for parents and the board members, who have never had to sit down in a virtual classroom for six (or more hours) and write essays, take tests, try to cooperate with others or prepare for an AP exam, to listen to those who have before making a decision that is nearly unanimously opposed by those that it affects: every single secondary student and teacher in our district.
In order to accurately reflect the opinions of the 2307 students who attend CHS, The Lancer Link conducted the most responded-to student poll in our publication’s history (800+ responses in under 48 hours). The results were resoundingly in favor of keeping our asynchronous Wednesday.
When asked to rate how students feel about asynchronous Wednesdays, 91% of students said they can’t live without them, rating them a five out of five. A further 95% said they don’t think the School Board should remove them before the end of the academic year.
“With all this chaos, Wednesday has always been my safety net…” -10th grader
“Async Wednesdays are so helpful, you don’t even understand…” – 10th grader
“I feel way less stressed knowing I have Wednesdays’ to study and complete my work…” – 11th grader
“Wednesdays are the only reason I haven’t broke in half from stress…” – 10th grader
“For my own mental health it’s a great day to relax and catch up on my work. This quarantine is tough and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do without it.” -11th grader
Wednesdays have proven to be an indispensable safeguard for students and teachers to catch up with their new pandemic routines. Every reputable scientific or media outlet is reporting the same thing: stress, depression and suicide have skyrocketed among teens during the pandemic. This isn’t going to change when schools go back five days a week. This is going to change when all kids are free to hang out with their friends, go to the movies, wait at a crowded line at the Village for food and walk around without masks or distancing.
The school board can do nothing to accelerate the return of that day and until that day is here the school board has to act accordingly to its students’ and teachers’ reality of needing more time to take care of their own wellbeing, planning and productivity.
On top of the issue of mental health, 94% of students said that they use Wednesdays to get caught up, or even get ahead on their work. Teachers have also echoed the same thing on their side. Having an extra day to grade, plan and take care of themselves and their own families in a profession known to be under-appreciated and sometimes overworked has proven invaluable. The importance of Wednesdays and the aid it provides to students and teachers – especially on the aspect of productivity – is not hard to see.
“Students need this time to be away from the computer screen and relieve their pandemic-related or school-related stress and anxiety. It is important to give students autonomy over their own work-related choices just for a day so to prepare them for college and career.” -12th grader
This is a sentiment we see throughout Carlsbad not just our student body, but also through La Costa Canyon High School’s and Sage Creek’s student bodies. La Costa Canyon students have launched a petition to keep their Wellness Wednesdays that has outpaced 1,600 signatures. The same thing goes for the petition started by Sage Creek students which has gathered more than 500 signatures. Many of these students, including many of us at the editorial board, do our best to get ahead with work on Wednesdays. The resources we get during Advisory classes have been useful and the ability to work at our own pace – especially at a time when we have less control over our daily lives than ever – has proven effective and satisfying.
Perhaps some students do not find Wednesdays vital to their wellbeing or productivity and some parents look at that as evidence of asynchronous Wednesday’s uselessness. As the editorial board, and as students from various backgrounds, we believe that if Wednesdays truly helped just 100 kids from having a mental breakdown, from worsening grades on their transcript, from arguments with their families and increased isolation from friends, then Wednesdays have to be kept. If Wednesdays helped just 100 kids feel relaxed, more academically proud and happy amidst a global pandemic then Wednesdays are absolutely worth it.
What does the removal of Wednesdays even provide for students and teachers? It won’t make Carlsbad and its residents feel and operate as they did before March 13, that’s for certain.
There’s also the issue that over 50% of CHS students have chosen to remain in cohort C, distance learning with no in-school presence. After 2/3 of this entire academic year has gone by with that Wednesday in their schedule, it is brutally disrespectful to those students to remove their asynchronous learning day. The pandemic hasn’t left, many students still have cause to be wary of returning to school, and staring at a computer for six plus hours a day hurts just as much as it did back in August when school started.
So again, with half of our school still opting for distance learning, what is there to gain by removing asynchronous Wednesdays? Will these students be more productive with less sleep? Will they be happier and more successful with more busy work and butts glued to their seats for another whole school day? Will our teachers be happier or more productive with even less time to grade, plan and meet individually with all their students?
It seems that a very loud parent minority — and that minority alone — has been getting the ear of the School Board when it comes to this issue. The entire Board (save one member) has shunned its duty to reach out to students just by proposing the elimination of our asynchronous Wednesdays. It’s time to listen to the students that this School Board is supposed to represent.
“School is the #1 cause of stress for pretty much every single teenager. Especially school this year. Have the multiple teenage suicides this year not said enough? Async Wednesday allows students to have a breather that they NEED. Please don’t take that away.” – 11th grader