MCHS announces, postpones new digital learning model

After informing students that the current digital learning schedule was changing, the district postponed the change in response to student and staff concerns

A+student+submits+an+assignment+through+Schoology+on+her+Chromebook.+MCHS+changed+their+mind+after+announcing+a+new+digital+schedule+that+added+ten+minutes+to+each+class+to+support+struggling+students.

Amy Maciaszek

A student submits an assignment through Schoology on her Chromebook. MCHS changed their mind after announcing a new digital schedule that added ten minutes to each class to support struggling students.

Emma Snyder, News Editor

Less than 24 hours after releasing information about a digital learning schedule change, MCHS decided to continue the existing digital learning schedule for the remainder of the semester. 

Marsh Pottohff, West Campus principal, sent out two emails on November 24. One sent first thing in the morning, officially announced the change in the digital learning schedule. The second email, sent at the end of the school day, postponed the implementation of the new schedule until second semester. 

“Today we asked teachers to discuss the proposed modified digital schedule with all of their classes,” said Potthoff in her second email to students regarding the schedule change. “The purpose of the modified digital schedule was to provide additional targeted support before the end of the semester. Although some students believed components of the modified schedule could be helpful, many students expressed concern that disrupting the routine that they have been accustomed to this close to the end of the semester could have diminishing returns.”

The new schedule, originally set to begin December 4, will now be implemented second semester if MCHS is still unable to return to a hybrid model. This new digital learning format was built to help students and teachers transition into a hybrid model. 

The proposed digital learning model eliminates morning office hours and schedules classes to begin at 8:15 AM. Students would have “A days” every Monday and Thursday and “B days” every Tuesday and Thursday. Fridays would be synchronous days where students are expected to attend all eight classes in 40-minute periods, similar to a normal in-person school day.

Afternoon office hours would continue as normal Monday through Thursday. However, on Fridays, office hours would be pushed back 10 minutes, starting at 2:10 PM, to accommodate having all eight classes.

“I do [think this schedule will be more effective] but with all things, it will depend on the students who apply themselves for it to benefit as it is intended,” said Carl Vallianatos, Assistant Superintendent, in response to implementing the new schedule. “There is no doubt that the time will be better spent than morning office hours were. Everyone needs to focus on their own path to success in the next 5-6 weeks.”

The decision to postpone the new digital learning schedule was made in response to concerns expressed by both students and teachers. 

“Restructuring our digital model is necessary to maximize instructional time, support services, and efficiencies,” said Potthoff. “However, we would never want to potentially do more harm than good and increase anxiety or stress levels before the end of the semester.  We value our students’ feedback, and we appreciate their thoughtful and meaningful conversations with their teachers throughout the day.”

Students at MCHS also started a petition on Change.org in protest of this new digital learning model. Although the petition is titled “Boycott School”, it gained almost 700 signatures. 

“Our teacher and staff members are doing everything possible to ensure our students feel supported and are successful this semester,” said Potthoff. “We will continue to innovate and evaluate our current instructional model while making changes when necessary to improve student outcomes.”

Beginning second semester, District 156 plans to return to a hybrid learning model if the COVID-19 school metrics allow.