Breaks from Year-Long Classes are a Scheduling Change for the Better

Michelle Liu '23, Contributor

If the new school year in a pandemic couldn’t have brought enough unprecedented changes, the new terms which have four blocks per term and 70-minute classes are certainly changing the academic life of Loomis Chaffee and giving students and teachers yet another thing to adapt to. Thankfully, this new change, having breaks from academic classes, is a relatively small adjustment to make in a time of so much chaos.

The long break from the academic classes definitely poses some challenges, but in order to bring students back and prepare for the worst, Loomis has adapted to the situation to provide the most stable and consistent schedule that still makes learning its number one priority.

In the 2020-2021 academic school year, Loomis has changed its previous three-term, 10-week, seven-class block schedule to a schedule with six five-week “mini” terms with four class subjects. After the five-week marking period ends, students take the rest of their classes and take a break from the material they have just spent an intensive and condensed term on. For year-long courses, students alternate between having the course and not having the course each marking period.

The new LC schedule, especially one that officially incorporates asynchronous lessons, has shattered previous school routines. The biggest change lies in the fact that academic classes are no longer continuous. Each marking period is very rigorous and fast paced, but after that period, I must say that a long time passes before I touch certain textbooks again.

Most academic classes are cumulative and require a strong base to move forward. These breaks, namely the large two-month break from Fall Term 1 to Winter Term 1, have been a great concern. For me, I know I worry that if I cannot even remember what I ate for dinner yesterday; how can I remember the trigonometric double angle identities from two months ago?

This new schedule, no doubt, has disrupted the traditional Loomis schedules, but the pandemic or any other disruptions this year has not disrupted high quality teaching—whether that be through a screen or a mask.

With the constant uncertainties we continue to face, the two month break is a small sacrifice in the greater scope of the situation. Loomis has posed a new but necessary challenge since this new schedule can make sure that our school can still conduct academics in case of any emergency that presents itself this year.

A chunk of the student body is in a different timezone from Loomis time, the pandemic runs the risk of drastically changing the situation at moments notice, and everyone has had at least a handful of frustrating experiences with bad Wi-Fi.

Though this new schedule does sacrifice learning continuously, it has allowed students to not have to stay up all night to attend class, have class at a size where students can meet in person, and increase flexibility within the schedule if change does arise unexpectedly.

So in the wider scope of things, yes, learning has changed this year, but not in a way that hinders academics. The teachers are still able to teach the material they have prepared with this new schedule. By paying attention in class, communicating with teachers, and having a flexible mindset, students can engage in their classes and progress through their classes like any other year.