The fall semester of 2019 was filled with many things: a newfound obsession over VSCO girls, Tik Tok, and Hydro Flasks, the excitement of a new principal at San Marcos, and an adjustment to the block schedule for incoming freshmen. Each student had three, sometimes four, eighty-minute-long classes in their schedule, and, save for the freshmen’s first term at San Marcos, many enjoyed the freedom of Royal Time. Students would socialize with their friends, catch a break from their hectic classes by scrolling through social media on their phones, start their homework early, or get academic help from teachers. At the beginning of the day, students came bright and early at 8 AM, ready to learn, usually leaving school by 3:05 PM.
Fast forward a year later. COVID-19 has reared its head and school looks much different from what it used to be.
“In the fall of any typical school year, we would ask that students use their scheduled breaks wisely and make sure their needs are met whether that be social, emotional, physical, etc. while keeping an eye on their academic responsibilities,” said SMHS Assistant Principal Dr. Analese Alvarez. “In distance learning, I tend to be more specific in recommending that students step away from screens…do [something] else that would give their eyes and brains a break from technology.”
However, the spring, and now, fall, semesters of 2020 look a little bit different. Due to COVID-19, the spring 2020 schedule featured hold-harmless grades, Zoom classes, and a more relaxed approach to school. Students woke up later, some not even bothering to get out of their pajamas or put on a shirt for class, and though the threat of contracting the virus was and still is real, they were able to escape some of the stresses and pressures of doing well in school.
“My morning routine is much less chaotic and less complicated,” said SMHS senior Peri Wilby. “I throw on a hoodie, put on music while I brush my teeth and make an iced coffee before hopping on my first period Zoom.”
Unlike last spring, where “hold harmless” grading allowed students to decrease their effort and attendance, Fall 2020 distance learning will provide for much more strict and rigorous of a semester. Students are required to keep their cameras on throughout class unless their teacher tells them otherwise, attendance is taken daily for each class, and grades, rather than there being an option for credit or no credit, or a guaranteed baseline grade, count as they would during regular, in-person schooling.
“After my harder classes, I need time to catch up,” said SMHS freshman Avital Abramov. “But usually after school, I text my friends and try to relax.”
And while there are fifteen-minute passing period breaks, as well as an hour-and-a-half long lunch, students’ routines are across the board. Take a look at the poll results below in order to get a feel for what has changed this year.
As you can see from this sample, the routines of San Marcos students over the course of a regular school day have changed dramatically. Some are getting more involved in academics during their breaks, while others have taken a more casual approach to getting ready for a day of high school (around 65% of students in our sample are now wearing pajamas to class some, if not all, of the time, compared to 93% of those students being dressed for school in-person). Still others are now making a concerted effort to balance their school activities with their personal lives. While this is a crazy time, our Royals have adapted to the new schedule well and will continue to flourish in school no matter how different it looks this year.
Summer is a senior at San Marcos High School…