As of 2018, one of the most apparent changes for schools in the Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) is the district-wide schedule change. While both schedules added a third tutorial period, teachers at all schools voted on whether they wanted to have four block days or two. Fremont High School (FHS) teachers chose the former.
At FHS, students and staff call their tutorial periods “flex,” and they occur on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
When deciding between the two schedule options, Principal Bryan Emmert and his staff were able to come to a consensus quickly due to a long-standing tradition at Fremont.
“We’ve been on a four-block schedule for I think the last 20 years,” Emmert said. “It would be a big change to the culture of the school [if we were] to go away from the block schedule.”
In addition to maintaining the culture at the school, Emmert revealed that another driving factor in adopting the new schedule was to have healthy sleep routines for students. Similarly, students at FHS acknowledge Emmert’s belief that the new schedule will assist in improving students’ sleep schedules.
“Now I get more sleep because I get to wake up later,” FHS junior Tammy Phan said. “And I just really like using my flex time for work. I personally think that’s really helpful.”
The students identify both the positives and drawbacks to the new schedule.
“I like is how [tutorials are] more spread out from last year,” FHS junior David Chen said. “We’ve had two in a row, but this year, [they are] every other day. But one thing that I really don’t like is the one on Monday. It is first block, second block, but there’s no break between the flex and a third. Usually students would get used to having a tutorial and then brunch and then third block or something, but now, it is all in one.”
Phan agrees with Chen, but she also shares her opinion that the new schedule has been helpful for her to manage her time better.
“I still kind of feel like [flex periods on] Mondays aren’t really necessary because I finished all my homework by then,” Phan said. “Fridays are better since I probably have more homework to do and I can finish it before the weekend.”
While Phan speaks on her own behalf, Chen adds an observation of his peers. Prior to the schedule change, office hours were available before the first class for students to voluntarily attend if they needed extra help. Although office hours did not count towards instructional minutes for Fremont HS, it was structured to motivate students to take initiative.
“I liked how you know you would come in early on a day, [but] it just felt like not a lot of people will take advantage of it,” Chen said.
In addition to flex, FHS includes “closed flex” during the first few weeks of school so students could attend orientation. Closed flex is a time which students would be required to stay in an assigned classroom so that they can attend school-wide events, such as a presentation or orientation. Since closed flex is a school-wide decision, students do not have the freedom to carry out their own tasks.
“They’re probably less productive, but they’re probably important for school,” Pham said, “[such as] giving us time to [attend] any school-wide event.”
Overall, the schedule change, including the addition of flex times, was meant to motivate students and reduce high levels of stress.
“Well, I mean, going back to the rationale,” Emmert said, “Students are able to just manage [their] time so that they have to stay up a little bit later to do work or activities or sports, they can get at least a half an hour sleep in the morning.”