Remote learning returns, with changes from the spring

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On Monday, September 21, the Townsend Harris High School community kicked off the first week of the 2020-2021 school year virtually after the DOE delayed the reopening of NYC schools

The new remote learning schedule for most students consists of eight 38-minute long bands with three minutes in between to move virtually from class to class. For most students, the day begins at 8:25 AM and ends at 2:13 PM, though students with zero band classes start at 7:45 AM. After fifth band, students are also given a 20-minute break before their next class since there is no designated lunch period. Contrary to the school schedule followed in the fall of 2019, this year’s schedule allows for all bands to meet every day of the week, instead of skipping a period Monday through Thursday and attending only four periods on Fridays, with 50-minute long sessions. 

The use of synchronous video meetings in this year’s school schedule is a different approach than the mostly asynchronous system created for remote learning in the spring. Now, all students are required to attend live class sessions.

Though students and teachers are still adjusting to the new synchronous schedule, some students reported that the first week ran relatively smoothly. 

“I actually think the first week went pretty well, and I learned as much as I would’ve in school,” said sophomore Anna Kim. “However, it’s restricting when certain teachers are unfamiliar with the tech they’re using and spend class time figuring it out.”

Freshman Daffny Cardoso agreed that though there have been a few minor issues, she appreciates the simulated school experience. “I enjoy how everyone turns on their camera so that it makes everyone feel like it is an actual learning environment where we can see our peers and teachers,” she said.

“The students are very engaged and seem to have very few problems with the technology. I think the major benefit of remote learning is the ‘health safety,’” AP World History teacher Adam Stonehill said. He also explained that although the synchronous sessions have seemed to succeed at simulating the classroom experience, not having physical socialization is an emotional detriment.

Although video meetings allow teachers and staff to see their students, guidance counselor Jeremy Wang said, “I miss seeing my students in person.”

Townsend Harris will be fully-remote in the foreseeable future due to restrictions implemented for schools in COVID-19 hotspots, one of which the school is located in.

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