Update: School Ending a Week Early

Update: School Ending a Week Early

Sammy Rosin

Every year, the last week of school creates a mix of emotions for most students: the stress of struggling through exams, the sadness of saying farewell to teachers, and the excitement of looking towards summer with growing anticipation. This year, however,  the end of school  will look very different, including an entire week less of school. Instead of classes ending June 11, 2020, the last day of school will now be June 5th.

On May 17th, Mr. Bachelor called families across the district  with a message that the 2020 school year would be ending a week earlier than originally planned. In the update,  he explained,“In order to give our teachers and staff time to prepare for the fall, we are going to end this school year on friday June 5th.” It is still unclear how school will be executed in the fall, as it is too early to tell, but the school district wants to give  teachers as much time as possible to plan for whatever is to come. Additionally, there is a limited amount of work the students can do online for the rest of this year. As Guinevere Dunn, 9th grade, shares, “I think that getting out a week early makes sense because school has been less effective recently, but I’d like to go back to school and see people in the fall, so it made me kinda sad too.”

Although beneficial and logical, the shift in the schedule has not been easy for teachers. It was already difficult to teach as much material in online school as it was in person, and now with a week cut from the school year, the challenge grows. Many times, unfortunately, teachers save exciting projects and activities for the end of the year, which will be harder to fit in now, assuming they were even able to be done online in the first place. As English Teacher Mr. Rosin explains, “I’m disappointed that there’s material that I won’t be getting to discuss with my students and exercises we won’t be able to do, but I understand the reasoning behind the shift.”  

The uncertainty for the next school year also makes it complicated for the teachers to plan their lessons. Teachers have to plan  for how to adapt traditional lessons for online classes, how to make  virtual learning most effective, and  for how to create and maintain strong teacher-student connections,  even without physically meeting one another. In addition, teachers must also think about what new ways they will teach if school is held on-site at RHS because the schedule could be modified to fit social distancing requirements. Mr. Rosin, who will be teaching Viewpoints next year, has already started planning with his co-teacher, Mr. Wright. Said Mr. Rosin, “We  have already started talking about adjustments, although we’re too busy now to concentrate on details. That course, being very group-focused and discussion-oriented and usually large, requires a lot of new thinking every year, and even more so now.” 

Other school districts in the area have executed plans similar to Radnor. Both Springfield School District and Haverford School District, for example,  have chosen to end school a week early in order to have teacher development days and allow educators to plan curricula for the upcoming school year. Garnet Valley is also ending the year early, explaining on their website, “Since student activities–exams, transition assemblies, awards ceremonies–that normally occur during the last few days of school will not occur this year and since our students and their families are becoming more and more fatigued with virtual learning, we will be closing schools approximately one week earlier this year.” Public school districts are allowed to end classes  a week early this year–when many other years classes are extended due to days missed from bad weather–because of PA’s Act 13 0f 2020. Act 13 of 2020 waives the requirement of having 180-day school terms, while also ensuring schools make thorough efforts to keep up beneficial online instruction.

There are many ideas as to what going back to school will look like for RTSD next fall, but a lot will  depend on guidelines  the PA state legislature gives districts  about social distance requirements. One idea Mr. Bachelor described in his email was to promote social distancing by cutting class sizes in half, with students only coming to the  school building every other day. For now, it is uncertain whether going back to school in the fall will be in-person, online, or a hybrid.  Mrs. Kevgas emphasized, “This situation is constantly evolving,” but whatever happens the teachers and administrators are working hard to ensure that Radnor students will continue to receive a great education despite the less-than-ideal circumstances. Despite some of the obvious challenges, Mrs. Kevgas remarked,  “ Our teachers are excited to close out the 2019-2020 school year with an eye to begin plans for the 2020-2021 school year.”