No more outside breaks

Toni Diaz, Copy Editor

27th October, 2022

This 2022-23 school year, Arcata High has continued our block schedule of three  110 minute classes each day besides Mondays, which are regular six 50 minute classes. Students used to be allowed a five to ten minute outside break last year but now class breaks have moved indoors since mid-September, after Principal Ron Perry sent an email telling teachers to switch their break norms. 

Perry shares how he has tried to listen and do what’s best for all the students and teachers, but it is not possible without everyone on board. 

“The issue is we need an environment where everyone can learn, and outside breaks are not providing that environment for everyone,” Perry said.

Students are expected to provide an efficient environment for not only themselves, but others, and when going out for breaks that was not being seen. “It is not okay to go to the pool and it is not okay to walk to the park during class hours,” Perry said.

Students participating in such activities were being disrespectful, as well as those who wandered the halls disrupting nearby classrooms, or meeting up in bathrooms holding up those who just want to do their business and get out.

“Indoor classroom breaks are our best option to go forward with the environment we intend to create,” Perry said.

Perry also added that they tried to take intermediate steps before enforcing indoor breaks and that it was a long awaited decision. He spoke and received feedback from teachers, and still they saw no other way to keep the space positively engaging for all. 

This will be the norm for the rest of the school year in hopes that students will take into account their responsibility of being respectful and learning that it’s unnecessary to scream in hallways and crowd the bathrooms. 

“I am always willing to listen to ideas and find better ways for all to handle situations such as this, it’s just tricky to take into consideration the needs of everyone,” Perry said.

He wants to create a system that follows all RISE norms and does not want to give up. 

“Students are not children, they know how to be respectful to other students, to other teachers, and other classrooms, so let’s see it happen.” Perry said. 

However, many students on campus find themselves frustrated with the change. 

”It just doesn’t sit right with me! The point of the class breaks in the first place is to get you up and out of class. Although there are still breaks, just now confined to our classrooms, the fact that they were outdoors just allowed for more of a restart heading into the second hour of class,” sophomore Cal Tucker said. 

“The outdoor breaks and fresh air were a huge brain break,” Sophomore Kyler Coelho said. 

Students also expressed that they feel too many things are always in a constant change and it’s affecting how they go about their days. “There’s no time to adjust!” Junior Aria Soberanis said. 

This is understandable considering flex was changed before the first term ended and there hasn’t been much consistency with the schedule. After lunch we go to flex, have a five minute passing period break, stay in the same class for third or sixth period, have another in class break, and then class ends. So basically we are sitting in one classroom from 1:15-3:35. So especially with the last periods of each day, outdoor class breaks are much needed. 

“We are physically in our classes for too long, it’s extremely restrictive. The already two hour class periods are long enough, and then now with not even the option to step outside our classes, it’s become a complete prohibitive schedule, I just want to step outside of the space and fully refresh.” Freshman Josephine Cunningham said. 

The change in the schedule has also caused problems for teachers too.

“Teachers either over assign a ton of stuff, and we don’t have time to finish, or they underassign and you have way more time then you need,” Sophomore Taylor Sutherland said.

Sutherland also pitched the idea that teachers could just be mandated to supervise their students in a designated outside area not disruptive to nearby classrooms. 

“While the reasoning is understandable, it sucks! This is the consequence of the actions of those who could not be respectful and follow the original norms, but it’s also punishable to those of us who did follow the rules. If everyone could just do the right thing, while having teachers mandated to supervise, then the problem could be solved.” sophomore Everett Smith said. 

“It’s unfortunate, I’m already stuck for two hours, I just need fresh air and a moment to regroup and restart,” sophomore Ezra Kidd said. 

He finds himself having extreme trouble keeping his attention span to last for so long, as well as many others, and he felt getting fresh air, no matter the weather, was a huge help in being able to finish the second hour strong. 

“You know if you research, a teens attention span is nowhere close to the amount of time we are expected to have in class.” Sophomore Cassidy Quinllin said. 

He has a strong opinion alongside Ezra Kidd’s that a teens ability to focus is just not long enough for two hour periods in the same class, and when it’s class break time there’s no opportunity to leave the space. 

“It’s just not good for my brain, or my head, especially in class like math, I physically can’t stay focused no matter how hard I try for that long. That’s why the outdoor class breaks where so much help.” Quinllin expresses. 

Many of the students felt the outdoor breaks tricked our minds and gave us a huge brain break, while also giving the feeling of restarting going into a new period, they were more calm and refreshed. 

Several students shared that being able to physically leave the classroom and particular environment then going back in helped break up the block. 

“Being able to exit the space of the classroom really helped my brain and mind take in what was just learned, and then give me the ability to go back into the classroom to learn more.” Kidd added.

Most students similar to Kidd felt leaving the learning environment for even a small amount of time really improved how they engaged and were able to retain the learned information. 

Now from a teacher’s point of view, Anayeli Auza explains the struggle her students have with the new policy. She needs to give a constant reminder that she doesn’t make the rules herself, she just follows them, and the new policy is a result of their behavior, if they were to have behaved better things could have been different.

However, Auza does agree with most students that the outdoor breaks were beneficial to her and her students in regards to their behavior. 

“Outdoor breaks did result in a smoother running class,” Auza said.

The breaks also gave her a moment herself to get some fresh air and regroup. 

She understands that being in class can get hot and stuffy, but the students who took advantage of the outside breaks are now consequencing everyone. 

“But for now this is the norm and we just have to follow it,” Auza said.