Fords react to administration’s new schedule plan

An early draft of the 2021-22 US academic schedule – courtesy of Mr. Mark Fifer

Prior to the pandemic, no one would have imagined a schedule with only three classes a day. Yet, our three-class per quarter schedule is nearing the seven-month mark. On March 8, Head of Upper School Mr. Mark Fifer sent a school-wide email communicating the continuation of our current schedule and additions to be made in the following academic year.

     “With the expected course load for most students of three classes per quarter in a school day containing four periods, this means that for most students there will be at least one free block per day,” stated Mr. Fifer in his email. 

     The integration of a free block saw positive feedback from a majority of the students.

     “I feel like this was needed and will help kids when doing homework or trying to focus in a class,” Fourth Former Neil Sawhney said. 

     Time to complete work was a major upside among students such as Sawhney. No matter their respective courses, this block of time will take some weight off the busy schedule for many students. 

     Aside from homework, the preservation of one’s mental health is important in finding success in the classroom.

     “This block will give students a break and breath of fresh air and think, and make it easier to focus in class,” said Fourth Former Roch Parayre. 

     Even with dedicated time to get work done or study, there were still mixed emotions on the decision to continue the three-course per quarter schedule.

     “It’s rough,” Fourth Former Arnav Sardesai said. “It has both good and bad parts. It is simpler only having three classes and helps organize my time for homework. But the downside is huge. There is no time between learning topics. I think the class time works out to be the same as a regular year, but there is no time to truly internalize what we learn.” 

     The lack of time between classes contributes to many students’ feelings of not being able to internalize the learning topics.

     “With a language or math class— courses that build on each other throughout the year—it was difficult to take a three-month break and jump right back in,” Parayre said. 

“The class time works out to be the same as a regular year, but there is no time to truly internalize what we learn.” 

Arnav Sardesai ’23

     This quarter schedule runs in contrast to the schedule of previous years, where students were able to learn consistently at a steady pace. In addition, students can’t choose to separate their honors courses into different quarters, which disrupts the balance many students seek to maintain.

     “I’m really feeling the brute of the quarter system right now. I have finals now when spring sports are ramping up and clubs are going at full force. Normally, finals would be at the end of the year when all extracurricular activities would be done or wrapping up,” Sardesai said. 

     Similar to a circus act, one can only juggle balls in the air for so long before it falls. Many other students voiced concerns similar to Sardesai, as their workload has intensified.

“The school has done a great job in trying to minimize the risk of getting COVID-19 through strict mandates.”

Neil Sawhney ’23

     Still, the new schedule aims to help gradually return the Haverford community to “normal” conditions.

     “We are looking to move away from a single lunch period in which advisories eat together.  These modifications will hopefully allow us to return to some of the more traditional rhythms of the school day,” said Mr. Fifer in his email. 

     Students and teachers alike have missed the atmosphere of being together in a physical sense. With changes to the system in the works, these are all variables of COVID-19 restrictions and are dependent on how the school can mitigate risks of spreading the virus.

     “I feel the school has done a great job in trying to minimize the risk of getting COVID-19 through strict mandates,” Sawhney said. “Smaller classes, Virtue Village, and a grace period in between the end of school and sports, to name a few.”