Mason’s virtual schedule: Flawed, but does the job

Harshini Velmurugan, Staff Reporter

George Mason High School Virtual Bell Schedule
The current Virtual Bell Schedule in George Mason High School. (Screenshot by Harshini Velmurugan)

The first week of school, I kept going to the wrong classes—let me tell you, it is so frustrating to go to the wrong class and have to exit. I asked many teachers about CCE, and many were uncertain too. For me, and so many other students, everything seemed confusing.

But two months have passed since the high school reopened virtually and things have now been going smoothly. We didn’t have a well organized schedule in the spring, but we now have a much more organized, and better planned schedule which has helped us, the students, to focus and learn. I was overwhelmed at first, as were many students, but I quickly adapted to the new virtual bell schedule. From Learning Support to CCE, the bell schedule is not without its flaws, but it helps us get through the school day smoothly. 

Ms. Shannon Love, a new Mason English teacher, who was teaching in Connecticut last year, switched to digital learning last year around the same time FCCPS switched.

“I was teaching in a different state last year when we switched to digital learning and I think that our schedule is more manageable than what I was used to in my other school,” said Ms. Love.

There are many mixed student reactions and opinions on the current virtual bell schedule. Students are uncertain about blocks in the schedule like CCE and Learning Support. Freshman Julia Wolf said that how CCE is used depends on the class— some classes may use it sparingly and others may use it more effectively.

“CCE really depends on the classes, some classes may find it useful and some may not,” Wolf said. 

She also added that it may be effective for tests, quizzes, but for reviewing or studying content, it is not useful. Though the Learning Support block was used scarcely throughout the first few weeks, the usefulness of Learning Support has started to increase. Students started to use the Learning Support time more frequently and effectively.

Wolf said that she doesn’t use Learning Support much, but she said that it is certainly helpful for getting individual time with the teacher.

Some students are worried that the two hour long break due to lunch and Learning support might hinder their focus during afternoon classes. The two hour break is intended for a rest from electronics, but many students get distracted and lose momentum for their afternoon classes during the break.

Ms. Love said, “I can definitely see how it would break the student’s focus because if it’s a day you are not meeting with your teacher during Learning Support, two hours is a pretty big chunk of time.”

Students have suggested that breaking down the two hour break into smaller breaks between classes might be helpful. This will allow students to get ready for their next class and also gives them a break from their electronics briefly, allowing them to be able to relax their eyes for some time.

Though there are some hitches here and there, it is a more organized and efficient schedule than the one we followed in the spring. Nothing is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. 

Stages of reopening for FCCPS
The various stages in the road to reopening George Mason High School. (Screenshot by Harshini Velmurugan)

We had a pretty unexpected start of school, where we didn’t know what to expect. Dr. Noonan formally announced the return of secondary students who will attend a hybrid schedule after the winter break in the recent news on the school website.

Therefore, I am formally announcing that we will return our secondary students (Henderson and Mason) in the new year and the new building,” Dr. Noonan wrote. 

We have to deal with the online classes hopefully only for a few months. As things are starting to get better here, we can finally take a deep breath and relax. Before we know it, we will be sitting in the classes and walking the halls of our new school—but for now, the virtual bell schedule gets us through the week and we will keep doing the best we can.