Throwing Darts at the Wall: Course Selection Amid COVID Uncertainty


Latin students have started planning their schedules for the 2021-22 school year after completing three quarters of not-so-typical instruction. As the vaccine rollout begins to mitigate the pandemic, the hopeful plan for next school year is to be fully in person with a normal schedule. However, one pandemic refrain still applies: Nothing is set in stone.

Given this year’s hybrid schedule, several students arranged their classes and extracurricular activities in different ways than they normally would. So how were students’ schedules different this year as opposed to previous years? What are students’ schedule plans for next year, and are these changes in schedules going to prompt class requirements to change? And most pressingly, what will next year’s academic instruction look like?

Dean of Upperclassmen Joe Edwards noted that Head of School Randall Dunn’s stated goal for the upcoming academic year is “having every student at school full-time.” Mr. Edwards shares this goal with Mr. Dunn, saying, “Implementing that goal in a safe, responsible manner may or may not require some adjustments to how we might typically do things, and we will have to see what guidance and/or restrictions are in place in the late summer.” He continued, “It’s just too early to know specifics, but my fingers are firmly crossed we can come together as a community and make it happen.”

Assuming that next school year will be normal and in-person, junior grade representative Collin Dwyer said, “Before COVID-19, I would normally stay at the school until 5 or 6 to hang out and do work, because I found that I was much more productive and engaged in the building.” For next year, he said, “I [will] probably set aside some of that [after-school] time rather than devote it to extracurriculars.”

Junior Quincy George said, “I think I will probably take more electives, like art, when I’m back in school, but keep the same amount of other academic classes.” She continued, “For me, being in-person and taking more classes is better.”

Regarding this year’s hybrid-learning plan, students arranged their schedules in a variety of ways. Collin said, “I added [as many] classes [as] possible because I felt that remote learning has left me with more time. I work a lot longer every day by design because I don’t have as much going on in my life due to the quarantine.” He added, “I have worked on finding many new extracurricular and outside-of-school activities as a way of engaging with people, as remote learning has left some gaps.”

On the other hand, sophomore Julia Mann said, “I am taking one extra class this year. I think I would have taken the same classes if school was all in-person.”

Upper School students usually take six to seven classes out of eight total blocks, leaving them with one to two free blocks in their schedules.

Many students have held off on taking PE and art classes this year. Quincy said, “I decided not to take art classes because I thought that would be difficult while being remote. Those classes are more interactive, and I think [they] are better and more manageable in-person.”

Similarly, Collin said, “I was considering taking yoga but decided against it given the online setting.”

Julia said, “I did not take the art class that I was planning on taking because I didn’t want to take too many classes.”

In light of these circumstances, Quincy said, “It might be better to lower the art credits, because art is really hard to do remotely, and [students] who would normally take art classes may not have this year.”

Julia added, “I think the PE requirements should be changed. I think some [athletic] seasons were made shorter, and students are not allowed to take two sports at a time, which limits the credits they could earn.”

Collin said, “As a grade representative, I feel [that] the school should try to find ways to lessen some graduation requirements or offer alternatives to classic credits.” He continued, “Many students are having a very difficult time in their online classes, and I wonder if the school should offer more ways to earn PE and arts credits to alleviate the burden on some students.”

However, Mr. Edwards said, “There is not a change in graduation requirements. Many students have taken PE and arts classes this year and had wonderful experiences with them, [and] I definitely encourage students to pursue these and other electives next year as well.”