Later and longer

Later dismissal times have a negative effect


Illustration by Allie D’Amato

Two hours and 20 minutes. That is how much free time we lose each day now that we have switched back to 2:55 dismissal days instead of 12:35 dismissal days. I understand that last year was considered an exception, being that we were in the midst of a global pandemic at its peak and therefore, some things were adjusted accordingly (like our school bell schedule). However, after coming back to school in person and being forced to attend classes for longer periods of time, I’ve realized that getting out later is wildly inefficient and disadvantageous. 

On the first day of school, I was incredibly excited about coming back to see all of my friends and meet all of my new teachers, but as I sat in different classes for hours, I felt like school was interminable. Towards the end of the day, I found myself constantly questioning when school was going to be over. 

I guess I’ve been conditioned to find shorter days normal, as have many other students. I remember when I got home from school the first day, I read the time as 3:11 PM, and thinking nothing of it, I immediately crashed; when I woke up, the clock read 7:09 PM. I thought, Is this really how it’s going to be for the rest of the year? Granted, it is kind of my fault for taking such long naps, but I partially blame our late bell schedule as the reason I was so tired that day. 

When we had 12:35 dismissal days, I didn’t feel exhausted after school ended; in fact, some days, I would be motivated enough to start my study guide questions or think of leads for journalism stories. But after going back to 2:55 dismissal days, I’ve noticed how fatigued I feel when I come home. The fact that we are actually in person now and are subjected to some physical exercise instead of sitting on Zoom all day may also contribute to fatigue, but I strongly believe that making students stay at school later has a negative effect on our alertness, as well. 

Longer days usually imply more instruction in class; after the bliss of 35-minute classes on A days and 80-minute block periods on B and C days last year, my attention span can’t go back to persevering through regular block periods. I feel as though I’m pushing myself to absorb information and pay attention in class now, and I end up drained by the end of the day. 

Another big problem with 2:55 days is the fact that students don’t have as much free time as they did before. When we were let out around lunch time last year, I could allocate more time for homework; I usually finished my work before dinner, and I was able to spend the rest of my afternoons talking to my friends on Facetime, watching fun shows/movies and going to bed at reasonable times. 

Now, I’m struggling to find time to complete my assignments. Over the course of the school year, my workload is guaranteed to increase, and seeing that I’m involved in athletics, AP courses and extracurriculars, it’s going to be hard to stay on top of everything. Those two hours and 20 minutes that I now lose each day were valuable to me, and I’m sure many other students would say the same. 

I know many teachers feel differently than I do regarding later school days; I’ve heard some mention how shorter days put them under stress, forcing them to condense lesson plans. They struggle to get through the curriculum with such a limited amount of time, and they feel as though the students aren’t learning as much as they should. However, several of my friends and I didn’t feel rushed last year, and I believe that I got the most out of my classes. I did fine on big assessments/essays and AP exams, and I learned more last year than I have any other school year. So why not just stick to 12:35 days? 

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be completely on board with returning back to 2:55 dismissal days, and I could go on and on about the benefits of being released from school at an earlier time. But, looking past the change in our bell schedule, I fondly anticipate being fully back in person this year; later days can be fatiguing, but nothing beats spending time with your friends and being able to talk to them face-to-face.