This Year Isn’t Normal. Let’s Start Acting Like it.

This+Year+Isn%27t+Normal.+Let%27s+Start+Acting+Like+it.

Anne Griffin

Last night at 6:32 pm, the school administration announced on Schoology that today, January 26, would be a synchronous eight period day, scraping the plans for a much needed asynchronous workday due to “forecasted weather” — a surprise for students, teachers, and families. 

The announcement was poorly received, garnering over 200 comments on the district’s Instagram account, none of which praised the decision. The most popular comment with 149 likes at the time of publication sharply criticized the administration’s decision, highlighting the need of many students to finish work before the end of the second quarter on Tuesday, February 2. The comment goes on to assert that asynchronous days serve as a break for students, faculty, and staff, explaining how many people’s mental health has been negatively impacted this year. 

As a senior, I cannot emphasize enough how difficult this year has been. Not only have students lost loved ones to coronavirus, but students have also lost their support systems, unable to see family and friends due to safety concerns. 

This year, school has been both a saving grace and a death blow. On one hand, school has provided a sense of structure and virtual community. And yet, when school becomes overwhelming and antagonistic, it no longer serves its students. Since starting the academic year, students have faced a once-in-a-century pandemic, a turbulent political scene, and a deadly government insurrection, without going into personal struggles. 

Everyone should be given space to grieve — grieve those they have lost, grieve their dreams of a senior year, grieve the end of childhood without celebration, grieve an ending without a true beginning. 

Personally, I could not have gotten through this year without the patience and care of my teachers who gave me extensions and encouragement. Teachers have taught with tremendous grace and flexibility that seemingly, they have not received from the administration. On the district website, an alert was shared announcing a virtual instruction day which argued that “Making this decision the evening of Jan. 25 provides teachers and families time to plan for a full day of synchronized virtual instruction.” This announcement forced teachers to create and adapt new lesson plans at the last minute, cutting into their family and personal time, regardless of their previous commitments or other classroom duties such as grading work or planning future lessons. 

In December, when facing inclement weather, the district first announced an all-virtual day. Later, a true snow day was declared without class. This sudden change gave the Radnor community a day to recharge and catch their breath. The change made things easier for students and teachers, not more difficult. 

The name of the game this year should be “flexibility.” Asynchronous days are great because they allow students an opportunity to meet with teachers to discuss issues and get additional help, while also allowing students to set their own pace for the day. 

Unlike previous years, the schedule does not include a community period. Not having a community period means that students without free periods must meet with teachers before or after school or during lunch. However, this isn’t always feasible for the teachers or students. Asynchronous days are so beneficial because both students and teachers share free time, allowing conferences.

I do not envy the administration. Like all members of our school community, the school administration has been put in difficult positions. But I would implore the administration, when facing a difficult decision, to air on the side of patience and flexibility. Radnor is known for its tradition of excellence. This year, that means patience and grace for our school community.