For the second straight week, parents came to the Vernon school board meeting on Aug. 26 to express their displeasure at the high school’s new rotating schedule as classes resume on Sept. 7.
The schedule is a four-day rotation. There are four morning periods and four afternoon periods. The day is divided by a unit lunch for all students, set up from two units, between 10:10 a.m. and 11:03 a.m.
Based on the day, the period order changes. Day 1 is a normal: periods 1-4, lunch 5-8. But day 2 begins with period 2, after which students go to periods 3, 4, 1, and then lunch. After lunch, they attend periods 6, 7, 8, 5. The schedule goes on to rotate over the next two days.
Assistant Superintendent Charles McKay said the rotating schedule was designed by the high school administration and a teachers committee. It was originally supposed to be implemented last year but postponed due to the pandemic.
“I know some people are concerned about the change daily in the rotation, but most of our students, once they start to get used to the program, they’ll start to feel comfortable with it,” he said.
Parents called the new rotation confusing, especially for special education students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
School board member Theresa Scura-Coughlin said not worrying about the change came from a “place of privilege.” The rotating schedule could further challenge a student with an IEP, she said.
“Then to know the students might feel different for whatever reason, they may feel more self-conscious if they make a mistake with the schedule,” she said. “It may unfortunately reinforce feelings for them.”
School board member Martin O’Donnell said the implementation of the rotating schedule could have been handled better. It looked as though some students didn’t even know there was a rotating schedule, he said.
“We know there’s controversy, but we also know there’s great support,” McKay said.
“Most of our students, once they start to get used to the program, they’ll start to feel comfortable with it.” Assistant Superintendent Charles McKay