With world-class ski resorts just a short drive away, plus 20 kilometers of Nordic ski trails and an outdoor ice rink on campus, Holderness School seems like it was built for winter. The same can be said of the school’s new winter schedule, which was redesigned to help students thrive amid the challenges of cold weather, short days, and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
Covering the seven-week period from January 19 to March 6, the new winter schedule offers students and faculty a careful balance of classwork, athletics, and days off. In designing the schedule, Director of Teaching and Learning Kelsey Berry sought to foster a sustainable rhythm for students who will likely be on campus through the end of May, given the logistical hurdles of travel and quarantining in the era of COVID-19. The new schedule should help students and faculty make the most of the short winter season, while striking the right balance between work and play. “I think all of these things will help the community thrive in the winter,” Kelsey says. “Not just get through the winter, but thrive.”
Here are the details.
Class Schedule: Keep It Flexible Students will spend a maximum of four hours a day in class this winter, and each class will last for 60 minutes. Over the course of any given two-week period, each class will meet five times.
In practice, that means students will spend half of each day in class, with the other half of the day devoted to athletics and other co-curricular activities.
Limiting classes to just four hours a day also gives the schedule added flexibility. That flexibility will be needed if the school suddenly shifts to distance learning and students are spread out across multiple time zones. In that case, Kelsey says, classes could be scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rather than in just the morning or afternoon. The four hour class time limit will also limit screen time for distance learners. “Four hours is something I’m comfortable with for screen time, rather than, say, six hours,” Kelsey says. “That’s a lot.”
Sleep On It Whenever possible, smaller classes will take place first thing in the morning. In practice, this means more students will be able to get a little extra sleep each morning– a critical requirement for a developing adolescent brain.
Winter Sports: Follow the Light The school’s winter sports teams will also enjoy more flexibility this winter. With daylight at a premium during the short winter days, athletics and co-curriculars will take place during the morning hours most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with classes in the afternoon. This will let athletes practice in full daylight on those days, and allow skiers and snowboarders to take full advantage of the best snow conditions for training at Loon Mountain Resort and Cannon Mountain. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, classes will take place in the morning, with athletics and co-curricular activities in the afternoon.
Wellness Days Every 12 academic days, students and faculty will enjoy a “Wellness Day”, an intentional day off from classwork and athletics. Over the course of the winter, students and faculty will enjoy a total of seven Wellness Days, which will give students and faculty an opportunity to rest and recharge. “We know it is going to be a long winter, and we think these wellness days are important for students and adults alike,” Kelsey says. And as is customary, each Sunday will be a rest day for students and faculty.
Shorter Weeks During a typical school year, students take classes six days a week, with a half day of classes on Saturday mornings. This winter, with Wellness Days and Winter Parents Weekend conferences scattered across the calendar, students will complete only two six-day academic weeks. Over the course of the winter, students will attend class on four Saturdays.
Keep it in Rotation This winter, class times will rotate. This means snow sports athletes won’t miss the same classes on competition days - and no one class will be permanently relegated to the “dark block” from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This new winter schedule will be in place until the start of Special Programs on March 6. A spring schedule will be announced to parents, students, and faculty later this winter.
Holderness has had an amazing fall and we have so much to be thankful for – the continued good health of this community, the dedication of the Davis Center, just being able to return to a school year that feels like normal and so much more.
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