Beginning August 31st, the East Haven Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to extend the school day by thirty minutes across the district to make up for the educational loss due to COVID-19 after a government grant was passed. The Board of Education (BOE) meeting took place on July 27 after tabling the discussion in June. During the BOE meeting, Vice Chair Mrs. Tia DePalma stated that she felt it was needed for the students.
The extension of the school day at EHHS was built onto the eighty four minute block periods, increasing block times to ninety four minutes. In March 2020, when all EHHS students were last in person, classes were 47 minutes long. Following the new decision from the BOE, the elementary and middle schools were given a thirty minute support period in the middle of the school day to seek help from teachers. Adding a similar support period for the high school proved to be a challenge, as schedules here are more complex than the elementary schools. “What we decided on at the start was to add the time to our four blocks,” says Principal Vincent DeNuzzo. “As we monitor the effectiveness of it, we’ll determine if it's working or if we need to change the model.”
Although it is still early in the school year, many classrooms are already seeing success with the new change. “Classes like arts, culinary, and woodshop where students are doing more project-based learning are getting a lot accomplished,” Mr. DeNuzzo comments. “The teacher can demonstrate something and the students can apply it without being rushed to try and finish it by the end of the period.” Other classes are finding similar progress by differentiating activities and assignments, keeping students involved in the lesson.
As of right now, EHHS administration is not planning on making any more changes to the current seven hour school schedule this semester. The first semester of school will be dedicated to evaluating all student data such as success rates, failure rates, and disciplinary rates. Mr. DeNuzzo hopes to keep the continuity, but will adjust schedules to better incorporate the thirty minutes if student data shows a need for it. For now, students and staff will continue to adapt to the longer times in each class.