Should We Bring Back Asynchronous Days?

During the fall semester of 2020, asynchronous remote learning Wednesdays were implemented by Apex High school in accordance with the guidelines set by Wake County for the purpose of “support[ing] both teachers and students in having sufficient time to fully engage and succeed in their work.” This policy was incredibly popular among students who enjoyed less class time. It also allowed teachers and students to better adjust to online learning and be less reliant on video-call learning. Asynchronous days ended with the spring semester of 2021 when Apex High School returned to in-person instruction. Was this a mistake? Should asynchronous days come back permanently?

Most students are supportive of the move, saying that a lot of instruction could be done in a shorter amount of time and that asynchronous days could be used to complete classwork.

Others enjoyed the hybrid schedule.

“It gives us a change from our regular schedule, and that would give us more free time,” Caroline Sirhal said.

Others disagreed. If the school was asynchronous once a week. A lot of work would have to be done online. Liam Kiley explained:

“Personally as a student, I would like that, but it seems like it would add a bunch of unnecessary complications to the school schedule…So ideally yeah, but practically probably not.”

Liam also elaborated on the potential downside of the policy change:

“Teachers have to teach more in a smaller amount of time so they give more homework that is due the next day. So you have more homework on the days that aren’t Wednesday, and you can’t even use the Wednesdays to catch up because it’s due before Wednesday.”

Studies on four-day school weeks don’t show great results in terms of academic achievement. One found study looking at the school districts of twelve states over nine years found lower math and English test scores.

However, researchers have also found that if each school day was more learning-intensive, the effect on academic achievement would be negligible. This makes sense as broader research on four-day work weeks has shown that more breaks allow people to be more productive in the time they do have to work and more relaxed in the time they have off.

Regardless of the research, there is no doubt that the transition to four-day school weeks would be controversial. Students from underprivileged backgrounds might actually fare worse with less class time. Many parents who couldn’t afford childcare would also struggle with the change. A four-day school week with an asynchronous Wednesday may not become mainstream until other policies are introduced like four-day work weeks, every student being given their own device, and universal childcare.

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