It is not necessary to stay on Zoom meetings for the required time



The image above is GUSD’s schedule for middle and high schoolers during distance learning.

Glendale Unified School District released the schedules for the 2020-2021 distance learning school year in early August. For middle and high schoolers, students who have seven periods throughout the day start at 8 a.m. compared to students who have six periods, who start at 9 a.m.

Classes last about 80 minutes and students have a 10-minute break in between their periods. The teachers and students have an hour lunch break. From 2:20 pm to 3:15 pm, students can do independent work, projects, clubs and connect with counselors or other school support staff. 

Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) has different times compared to GUSD. High school students with a zero period start at 7:10 a.m.; most students start at 8 a.m. The students’ classes also last 80 minutes and have an hour lunch break as well.

Considering the fact that students have 10-minute breaks and an hour or more for their lunch break, I thought that I would not be tired throughout the day during distance learning.

I thought wrong.

It’s exhausting to stare at my computer screen for about six hours every day. All our lives we have been told to not stare at our screens for a long period of time, yet online school is telling us to do the exact opposite.

I don’t think staying on a Zoom meeting for the whole 80 minutes is necessary. 

Ms. Scott-Sawyer’s health class during a Zoom meeting. (Keisha Belen)

On average, a teenager’s attention span is about 28-48 minutes according to Brain Balance Achievement Centers. Yes, the current schedule states that teachers must use at least 30 minutes of the 80 minutes for “live interaction,” which means video conferencing through Zoom or another app, but some teachers make students stay the whole entire time.

Having students remain in the full 80-minute meeting is longer than the average student’s attention span, so most students get bored and have no motivation. They will end up doing something else, leading to no one paying attention to the teacher. 

What teachers should do is the lecture they had planned, and then after they have finished, they should release the students from the meeting. 

Most of the time, teachers will be done with instructing their classes and will make the students stay in the meeting for a while in case any of the students have questions on their assigned work. I find the teachers letting students ask questions quite useful. Some students ask the teachers a lot of questions, though — making others lose their focus and distract them from their work. Students can do individual work outside of a Zoom meeting.

If we were in an in-person class, traditional high school classes would last about 50 minutes. I think that is the perfect amount of time to stay in a class. It also fits in the teenager’s attention span. Classes would end right before students are uninterested.

Both teachers and students are doing their best with online and distance learning. If we continue to be in distance learning as time goes on, it might be useful for the schools to rethink our current schedule.