Editorial: the problem with Cope’s online schedule

     With the Coronavirus forcing school to be held completely online, education has completely changed. In online school, the immersion provided by being in the same room as the teacher is gone, and the computers on which school is now held provide a plethora of easily accessible distractions. Schools have had to change their schedules to adapt to this, and although Cope’s schedule has changed, I believe that Cope’s new schedule is completely ineffective and makes these problems worse.

     Cope’s new schedule contains only three classes a day, and classes alternate between days. To make up for the fact that there are fewer classes, Cope has made classes 35 minutes longer. Fewer classes also means that there are fewer breaks. There are only two, one 15 minute break after your first class and a 30-minute lunch break after your second. But although there are fewer break times in the new schedule, there is also slightly less instruction time. Overall, the amount of break time compared to the amount of instruction time is the same as in the old schedule. So what’s the problem?

     The longer a person tries to do something difficult for their brain, the less productive they become at it. Breaks can combat this quite effectively. Many studies have found that even a very short break can greatly recharge an individual, making them able to concentrate more intensely. For example, one study found that after an hour, workers began to get distracted and began to go onto other websites such as Facebook, greatly reducing their productivity. This shows that 90 minutes is simply far too long to go without any breaks, especially for children in online school. Students need more frequent breaks, even if they are as short as five minutes.

     It may seem like nothing can be done to combat this, but that is not true. Although Cope’s schedule will almost certainly not change, teachers can implement short breaks in the middle of their classes to greatly improve their students’ productivity. Some teachers already do this! Most importantly, we can all use this as a learning experience for the hopefully extremely distant future where a pandemic comes to us all again.