A change in routine

The new high school start time


Photo courtesy of Sxtes via Creative Commons

As of August 13, Prince William County Schools has announced that all high schools will begin at 8:30 AM. Originally, they decided that virtual learning will begin at 7:30 AM. However, after much consideration, the school board decided this would be the best time due to parents’ opposition and the possible drastic effects on students’ mental health. . While many people would prefer this start time during a regular school year, there are many more obstacles that come with it. Dr. Steve Walts, Superintendent of PWCS, says, “As we only have approximately 3.5 percent of total students attending in person the first nine weeks, and per VHSL there are no organized athletic competitions, we have significantly more flexibility than in a typical year.” Therefore, although virtual learning comes with many challenges, it opens up several opportunities that are or were not available during a normal school year.

While online school is new to many students and teachers, it comes with a variety of pros and cons. It will not be something that works for everyone due to their personal learning preference. As a result, it will take some time to settle into remote learning, especially with a new schedule that high schoolers are not used to. Rising Sophomore Mackenzie Lou, says, “I like that we get to wake up later because sleep is important especially when you have to concentrate in school.” Additionally, students will have more energy, which will lead to great performance in their classes. Granted that it is only a short amount of extra time in the mornings, it is surprising how much of a positive impact this can have on students.

On the other hand, virtual learning can have some disadvantages from a student’s perspective. Even though school will begin at a later time, that was not a problem for many students to begin with. For instance, Alyssa Carman, a rising Sophomore, says, “Virtual learning will impact me in a bad way because I won’t get as much social interaction that I need. Also, I won’t feel as motivated to do anything if I’m at home. I would much rather go to school a few days a week than do all virtual.” During this period of virtual learning, the mental health of students is more important than ever. Not only are they living through a pandemic, but they now must attend school through a computer. Despite it being for everyone, staying at home will be tougher on some students than others. However, the county is trying their hardest to make virtual learning a safe place for students by providing mental health check-ins on Mondays as well as other student services. This is a great opportunity because there is not a bell schedule for that day.

Overall, the later start time of remote learning and the process of working online in general has a huge impact on everyone. This is a major change in routine, which is affecting many people’s lives right now. Currently, this schedule is only effective during the first quarter. However, if necessary, the county will make careful adjustments accordingly to ensure a great school year and safety for all students and staff.