School Community Reacts to New Bell Schedule

Donna O'Roy Bynaker, Staff Reporter

On January 21, students across Loudoun County started Semester 2 on a different bell schedule. At the beginning of the school year, students had an hour of synchronous learning and 20 minutes of learning lab, a period of asynchronous learning. Another feature of the old schedule was the 45-minute school-wide lunch. Now, the bell schedule resembles the in-person bell schedule, which means that students have 5 minutes between each class without an official learning lab period, allowing for one hour and 25 minutes of synchronous learning each period. Third block now accommodates three lunch shifts, each being 30 minutes long.  

Junior Cassie Umplett finds that the schedule change is unnecessary. 

“I personally find it pointless, no one is going back into the building so what’s the point? I wish we could keep the learning labs,” Umplett said.  

Junior Anders Ogelman, who is also a student at the Academies of Loudoun, has a more neutral stance on the new schedule. 

“I didn’t really use the learning lab productively anyway and the reason why I don’t really care is because I go to ACL on A days, and there was never asynchronous time there. So it’s not a big change,” Ogelman said.

Senior Kayla Bolen feels that the new schedule is aligned with the future goal of returning to school. 

“I think it’s definitely going to take some time to get used to. But it’s what has to be done in order to start going back to school,” Bolen said. 

English teacher and department chair Marcia Owens notes that the schedule change has the potential to give teachers more flexibility to decide how class time is utilized. 

“We teachers knew that the schedule change was coming.  I don’t see that it changes much, except that teachers have more freedom to determine when students will have independent work time,” Owens said.  

Owens said her only concern is that teachers may feel the need to teach for the entire 85 minutes of allotted class time. 

“We could allow a 15-20 quiet work session at any point in the day’s lesson. My only concern is that some teachers may feel that they have to fill the entire 85 minutes with instruction.  I hope that is not the case,” Owens said.  “As a community, we have been working to educate all teachers that the most effective teaching/learning environment allows time for students to work while an expert is nearby.”