Staff Editorial: Homeroom needs adjustment in virtual school

Editorial Board

Homeroom, in its current format, is not working. 

In this virtual environment, building connections is more important than ever. However, Homeroom, the class meant to do just that, has proven ineffective in providing connection and communication. This is due, in part, to the virtual format of the class.

Homeroom has almost doubled in length, going from 15 minutes to 25 minutes long, as well as now being on Monday and Thursday instead of Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

According to Principal Tina Ziegler, Homeroom was originally established under the idea that students who were better connected to each other, their teachers, and the school itself would perform better in school.

Westview created Homeroom with the intention of having another adult and group of students to connect with for all four years of high school,” Ziegler said. “It is a non-academic time, for a highly academic school.” 

This year, in the virtual learning environment, Ziegler said that Homeroom was intended as a place to disseminate information in the form of the Westview Newscast and ASB announcements, while also providing a place for students to connect with their peers and a teacher. Homeroom was also intended to be a place for mental health and equality and inclusion lessons.

“After the first couple of weeks, we received mixed feedback,” Ziegler said. “Adding another lesson was difficult; establishing relationships was a challenge for some.”

As of now, it is up to the teacher to determine how to best run their Homeroom. This has created disparities—extreme ones—in Homeroom classes. For some students, Homeroom is merely an attendance check-in, turning into an extension of their lunch break. Other classes participate in virtual games, such as Kahoot, or watch and discuss the Newscast together. 

And this is just for the students who have chosen to still attend Homeroom. Even when school was in-person, students skipped Homeroom in favor of hanging out with their friends or grabbing a snack from the cafeteria. Now, in a virtual setting, it is easier than ever to simply not attend the class. 

Additionally, much of the information disseminated during Homeroom can be found in other sources, such as on the Westview website or ASB Instagram. If students know that they can simply access announcements from other sources, they choose to not attend Homeroom, saving themselves from participating in another Zoom call. Yet despite this, if students choose not to attend Homeroom, but do not take the extra steps to look at the announcements on their own time, they remain uninformed.

If students do not attend Homeroom, then that automatically eliminates the ability to create connections with their peers or teachers outside of regular scheduled class time. Students, of course, still build connections with their classmates and teachers, but the difference is that homeroom provides that opportunity in a non-academic setting.

As the school looks towards reopening under the concurrent model in the coming months, a potential solution to the current problem with Homeroom could be combining the class with second period. 

This change would ensure higher attendance rates, which would increase the communication and connection key to Homeroom. Even further, if this time were added to second-period classes students would have a greater need to attend homeroom as it would be a direct extension of their class. 

While Homeroom was designed to allow students to build a connection with a group of peers and teacher for four years, that same growth is simply not possible in the virtual environment. Combining Homeroom with second period would not have to be a permanent change, but rather an adjustment better suited to online learning.

With all of the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, having a place to receive information about everything from spirit weeks to reopening updates is crucial. The student body deserves to be informed about the inner workings of campus, and Homeroom is meant to be the place to disseminate that information. There needs to be a change in order to ensure that happens.

As for creating deeper personal connections, setting aside specific time for this to occur, in a way that students will actually want to attend, is also important. Having Homeroom combined with second period would guarantee that students have time to simply chat with their peers and teachers, leading to the growth and bonding that Homeroom is meant to foster.

As Westview administration continues building the new schedule, looking at and revising Homeroom should also be considered.