ASB looks to student feedback on Monday schedule

An+empty+Palo+Alto+High+School+quad.+With+over+half+of+this+year+spent+in+virtual+schooling%2C+the+Paly+community+lacks+in-person+connection.+Brent+Kline%2C+Paly%E2%80%99s+new+prinicipal.+%0A%22I%27m+just+talking+about+ideas+and+trying+to+achieve+something+that%27s+going+to+accommodate+everyone%2C%22+Principal+Brent+Kline+said.+%22We+need+to+bring+life+back.%22%C2%A0

An empty Palo Alto High School quad. With over half of this year spent in virtual schooling, the Paly community lacks in-person connection. Brent Kline, Paly’s new prinicipal. “I’m just talking about ideas and trying to achieve something that’s going to accommodate everyone,” Principal Brent Kline said. “We need to bring life back.” 

Sofie Zalatimo and Brennen Ho

To improve the current Monday schedule, Palo Alto High School’s Associated Student Body is working to gather feedback from students and staff. According to senior Medha Atla, ASB’s school board student representative, the current options include an asynchronous day and an alternating block day. “I know that there are lots and lots of other ideas that people have,” Atla said. “I am hoping to hear all of those, either at the fishbowl or Instagram live, or other forms of communication.” Photo: Ryan Wisowaty

The largely unpopular Monday bell schedule could soon shift to an asynchronous or alternating block day, as Palo Alto High School’s Associated Student Body plans to solicit additional student feedback before collaborating on adjustments, ASB representatives said.

Senior Medha Atla, ASB’s school board student representative, has taken on a leading role in redesigning the current Monday schedule, which consists of seven 30-minute periods. During the fall semester, Atla worked with Thomas Li, the student school board representative for Gunn High School, to gather feedback from students. The results revealed predominantly negative opinions toward the schedule.

“It seemed like a lot of people did not like the current Monday schedule, but that isn’t new news,” Atla said. “We’ve known that for a while, … but they did provide us some ideas for how we could go about this.”

Atla said that prior to winter break, she met with Principal Brent Kline to discuss the possibility of altering the schedule.

“The Monday schedule has been on the top of the to-do list,” Atla said. “We’ve met with the Principal Advisory Committee, which consists of members from all four grade levels, and we talked to them about what they wanted from the Monday schedule. … I was trying to focus on a specific group [of students] but still incorporate different ideas and opinions, and the Principal Advisory Committee was a great place to start.”

According to ASB Publicity Commissioner and sophomore Evie Kramer, ASB will continue to collect feedback from the school community. Kramer said that ASB is considering an asynchronous approach, in which students could work on assignments independently throughout the day or use office hours to get extra help, to resolve dissatisfaction with the current schedule.

“I feel like it [an asynchronous Monday schedule] would be a better time investment and better for students’ mental health since we’ve been hearing a lot about Zoom fatigue,” Kramer said. “I think one of one of the drawbacks is that teachers can possibly overload the work for the time you have for the class, and then it’s also hard to self motivate, but I think that we can solve both of those problems by just creating clear restrictions and keeping Zooms open for students who need it.”

The asynchronous approach is currently in use at several other local schools, including schools in the Mountain View Los Altos High School District, which provides students with an asynchronous Wednesday with a suggested schedule to work independently.

Although this option was presented during the fall semester, ASB President Avantika Singh said that ASB’s discussion of the schedule became less relevant as the group’s focus shifted to the potential reopening of secondary schools, but that she hopes to resume the discussion by gathering additional feedback from students through surveys and fishbowls.

A September survey by Palo Alto High School Principal Brent Kline revealed that 46.8% of students ranked Paly’s seven-period Monday schedule below neutral. In response to negative feedback, the Associated Student Body is working to create an alternative schedule that would meet students’ needs. “We definitely are just trying to represent student voice,” Publicity Commissioner and sophomore Evie Kramer said. “And I think from the surveys that we’ve heard in the past, most students are unhappy with the Monday schedule.”

“We’re trying to revamp our surveys … [and] kind of make it more engaging so students actually fill it out and more specific so we can pinpoint what students want to see school-wise and also [in] the Monday schedule, specifically,” Singh said.

According to Atla, a previous survey conducted by the Parent Teacher Student Association revealed that many respondents were in favor of implementing asynchronous Mondays, but ASB and administration alike are still open to other options. Another possibility is an alternating block schedule like the previous school year, which would eliminate the seven-period day without losing synchronous learning time.

Atla said that in addition to student input, she also wants to ensure that staff opinions are considered as ASB moves forward with redesigning the schedule.

“My next steps would be to, after meeting with him [Kline], host both a fishbowl and an Instagram Live to solicit feedback and just engage with the student body, and see what they want and what they would like to see from Mondays,” Atla said. “Once we’ve gathered all the plans and have drafts of possible plan ideas, we would send out a survey and take a vote on which plan the students and staff want.”

Kramer said that as the revision and implementation of the Monday schedule progresses, ASB will continue to represent student opinions to find a balanced, effective solution.

“I think the Monday schedule is going to be a continuous conversation that we’re going to keep having for a little while,” Kramer said. “Hopefully we can make change quickly. … I think it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.”