Finals week begins with new changes for 2020 school year

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Laurie Carrillo

A student works diligently in her fourth period AP Research class. Finals week for all classes is set to begin Monday.

Kendall Gibson, Contributing Writer

Final exam week is set to begin Monday, Dec. 14 at 7:25 a.m. with several new changes.
Previous years saw two early release days during exam weeks, which fell on Thursday and Friday, but this year there will be no early release days. In fact, there won’t be any early release days for the rest of the year.
“When the district postponed the start of school by three weeks, they took away all of our early release days because we have to have a certain number of minutes over a course of a year,” English department chair Janet Stackhouse said. “We had to find minutes everywhere we could all throughout the year to make sure that we met the state minimum.”

Even though there are no early release days, many students are considering leaving early on Friday.
“It would be an absence in the classroom,” associate principal Jill Hayes said. “In that regard I guess it would be a student choice.”

Absences will not affect spring final exam exemption eligibility this year. Because it is quite difficult for virtual students to be absent, the policy has changed.
“We won’t be looking at the attendance piece this year,” Hayes said. “That’s the one way to make that a fair situation across the board.”

Stackhouse and math department chair Christine Kilcoyne built the exam schedule this year, and hope students will not be confused or overwhelmed during exam week.

2020 Fall Final Exam Schedule

“They put a lot of time and effort into it,” Hayes said. “It was quite the puzzle.”
If a student misses their exam, they must schedule a time to make it up with their teacher. The same rule applies to virtual students as well. Teachers prefer makeup tests to be scheduled during exam week but if a student needs to take the exam after the break they can do that as well.
“One of the cool things is that Thursday and Friday fifth period is normal class,” Stackhouse said. “So if you miss an exam on Tuesday or Wednesday, Thursday or Friday during fifth period might be a nice time to make it up.”
Virtual learners will follow the same schedule and rules as face-to-face students do. Online students will need to be on the computer, cameras on where the teachers can see them, to take the test at the exact same time as the face-to-face kids.
“It’s a completely strange schedule to them,” Stackhouse said. “I’m afraid that they’re not gonna know when they’re supposed to do what.”
Some teachers expressed concerns about the exams, mainly involving virtual students.
“I’m a little concerned because I’ve never given finals where half of my students are at home and half of them are here,” student publications advisor Jill Chumley said. “Maybe it would even be fair to let the face-to-face kids use their notes.”
Other teachers are working to make the exam more stimulus based, prompting students to find the answers with their brains and not their iPhones.
“The kids at home have access to their notes,” Stackhouse said. “One of the things we are trying very consciously to do in my department is to make tests that are not ‘Googleable’.”
Most classes, with the exception of fifth through seventh periods, have two review days next week to prepare for exams.
“This weekend I would recommend that students study a little bit for each of their finals,” Chumley said. “And next week I would recommend that they concentrate on the finals that are the next day.”