Inconsistency with ‘Communication’ time underlines larger issue


Photo by Finnegan Courtney '23

The current two-schedule format is flawed, but has a seemingly simple solution.

The schedule at Staples High School has and remains an often discussed issue, be it by students, teachers or parents. In my time at Staples alone, I’ve seen many different schedules come into place and vanish, with the current one being in place the longest. And yet, problems remain despite attempts at perfecting it.

The main problem with the current schedule comes with the Communications and Connections periods.  Presently, Connections periods meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Communications time is observed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Connections, as described in the Staples’ Student Handbook, is a 20-minute period designed to “communicate school-related information, foster meaningful connections between students and staff members, and create a safe environment where students feel comfortable to hold open discussions throughout their Staples career.” But while the word ‘Connections’ shows up nine times in the handbook, all in relation to the period, the word ‘Communications’ in reference to that scheduled time does not show up nine times; it doesn’t even show up once.

As a matter of fact, nowhere on the Staples website is there description of what Communication Time is, or why it’s in place. Perhaps this explains the startling inconsistencies behind the time’s observance. I take three courses, excluding my free, during the morning block of the schedule, and in each, differences can be observed. 

Communication Time should be observed in every period to allow students and teachers alike a break between courses.

— Finnegan Courtney

It ranges from one AP course never using the Communications time, to another AP course observing it from time to time, to another, an A-level course, always observing it. While the differences are clear as day, without any clear directive or purpose behind the time, why wouldn’t teachers exploit it for longer periods?

With schedule changes, covering lunch waves, Connections days leading to reductions in time blocks, in addition to the lack of any clear direction with Communications time, teachers only have two choices. Either observe the Communications block – reducing their teaching time – or don’t – thus ignoring the scheduling directive.

It appears that one solution may solve the problems faced: a better explanation of what the purpose of Communication Time is.  Communication Time should be observed in every period to allow students and teachers alike a break between courses. Mental health has long been discussed as an issue of high importance to this administration. To that end, allowing a reset of students on non-Connections days is an inspired idea.

Right now, students have no idea what the point of Communication Time is and teachers are forced towards a crossroad whether or not to utilize it. In a sense, it makes sense AP classes would try to use this time to extend periods rather than take time off from teaching, while A-level and honors courses would be more inclined to do so. But obviously, this schedule was not designed to be bent to class specifications.

Getting some kind of definition or at least parameters from the administration would get the ball rolling. It would not only give students and teachers an idea behind this schedule, but inform teachers why it may be so critical for it to be observed and end this irrationality surrounding when and where it’s utilized.