Another Schedule Modification


The Ramaz Upper School has modified its schedule multiple times throughout the past three years: from rotating days, to a hybrid schedule with Zoom and in-person classes, to its current five-day schedule. The beginning of the new school year included a schedule in which school began at 8:15 and ended at 4:55. Compared to last year, the school day was extended by one hour and ten minutes, two free periods were taken away, the Tefilla period was moved to second period, and periods were added such as Talmud, health, and gym class. Many students, teachers, and parents addressed the administration with numerous complaints concerning the new schedule. Therefore, an email was sent out outlining a solution: the school day would now begin at 8:30 and end at an earlier time, possibly 4:15. This email gave students a glimmer of hope that the new schedule would translate into less stress, better sleep, and a more enjoyable school day. However, hopes were soon dashed when the administration retracted this statement. The current model has the same start time of 8:15 but ends at 4:40 with 39 minute periods. These start and end times are not only significantly different from last year, but they are not what students desired after reading the promising email.

Although the email promised a much shorter school day, the days were only shortened by 15 minutes. At first, the administration thought of starting school at 8:30 to ensure that commuters would always be on time for their first-period classes. However, after collecting two weeks worth of data about the buses’ arrival times, the administration noticed they were arriving at school around 8:15. There were some days that commuters even arrived at 7:40; surely students wouldn’t want to sit around in school for 40 minutes! The administration decided to end school 15 minutes earlier so commuters could get on the highway before 5:00 and beat traffic. When asked if students like the times that school starts and ends, David Tarrab ’23– who commutes on the school bus every day from Brooklyn– said, “I like ending school earlier because it’s better for clubs, but ending at 4:55 compared to 4:40 doesn’t make much of a difference concerning the time I get home. I don’t want to start school later than 8:15 because the buses get to school on time most of the time ”. However, this does not hold true of all Ramaz students. Jem Hanan ’23 explained, “I’d rather start school at 8:30 because having more time in the morning makes a bigger difference than ending school 15 minutes earlier.” Tova Solomons ’23 added, “A more sustainable option that would appease the students would be having the school day start at 8:00 and end at 4:00. The commuters I have spoken to either get to school early or late. Additionally, 15 minutes earlier won’t make much of a difference. Students should be able to get home earlier to do extracurriculars, homework, and go to sleep at an earlier time.”

Ms. Krupka explained that a 4:05 end time is not off the table for next year, but that it is unlikely because 35 minute periods are not sufficient. Switching the schedule is a long process so “there will be a lot of student surveys and SFAC discussions about this,” said Ms. Krupka. It is even possible to begin the school day 15 minutes earlier at 8:00 and end at 4:20. These changes are possible but it’s up to the students’ preferences. Claire Landy ’24 said, “I’d rather school start at 8:00 so that school ends earlier.”

The new davening time was also a big adjustment to this year’s schedule. Last year was the first time Ramaz implemented second period davening, rather than first period. One issue with the new time slot is that commuters risk being late to first-period class. Ms. Krupka addressed the issues that have arised from this change, “we made Tefilla second period last year for the first time ever because since so many kids were on Zoom every day, we wanted them to have a break; we didn’t want them staring at their screens for five periods straight. From this, we started realizing that Tefilla in school became really nice, functional, productive, and thoughtful, instead of kids wandering into davening at any time between 8:00 and 8:45. Now, everybody comes to davening on time. We are trying to educate kids and create a culture in school where davening is important, but we don’t want this to be at the expense of kids feeling anxious on the bus in the morning. If davening will be moved from second period, it has to be thought through carefully because it’s not so easy for the schedule to be switched… By switching it back, we don’t want kids to receive a message that class is more important than davening.” On the other hand, many students feel that davening should be first period so that commuters won’t miss class, even with heavy traffic. After all, it is easier to catch up to the Chazan in davening than it is to catch up on the material one missed during Physics class. “I prefer davening first period because when you have first period class at the beginning of the day, it feels like you rush right into school; but if you have davening first, you have more time to get situated into school in the morning,” said Alex Sultan ’25. On the opposing side, Jenny Davis ’23 said, “I like having davening second period. Because davening is later in the day, I’m more awake and this enhances my connection to God and prayer”.

Another issue pertaining to the new schedule is the timing. To allow a shorter school day, the administration team came to the conclusion that each period will be 39 minutes instead of 40, and that the time in between periods will be four minutes rather than five. According to Tova Solomons ’23, “It is very hard to keep track of when classes start which has occasionally caused me to be late to certain things unless I have my schedule out all the time. I don’t think it was worth taking only 15 minutes off the schedule because it really has not made much of a difference. I still go to sleep at the same time and clubs normally end at the same time they did.” Claire Landy ’24 said, “I don’t like the new schedule with random start and end times because it makes it hard to know when the classes start and end.” While some students object to the confusing timing, others don’t mind it. “I like the new schedule with off-timing schedule because I like that we end earlier. Getting home at 4:40 compared to 4:55 allows me to get more work done,” said Elliot Davis ’23. Because of these disputing opinions, the administration team must make changes to resolve all of these issues.

Furthermore, the new schedule took away two free periods from every grade and added gym class, Talmud classes, and health class. Many students argue that free periods are necessary because it is important to have breaks during the day to meet with teachers and catch up on work. Transitioning from a hybrid schedule was difficult for some students; extending the school day and taking away free periods in the span of one year can be very detrimental for their mental health. Julius Zimbler ’23 said, “I think that the change of having no free periods compared to last year and having full-time school instead of a hybrid schedule has been challenging for the students. It’s been a tough change from last year for everyone now that we are more involved with actual school learning instead of online. Students need those breaks during the day to relax during the long school day.” As a result of the lack of free periods, the administration team made one Talmud class per week a Torah lishma period: this means that the teacher will teach optional Torah— which will not come up on exams— which the students are not required to attend. This period is a substitute for free periods, so that the students who want to continue learning can, while those who want to take a break can do that too. Moreover, there have also been more trips this semester than usual to ease the transition from last year.

Even with the updated schedule, the students of Ramaz demand that additional changes must be made: free periods must return, the timing of the school day should be resolved, and the timing of Tefilla has to be looked at more carefully. How will the administration be able to shorten the school day, but at the same time, add free periods and refrain from shortening class time? Potential possibilities noted by students include starting earlier and truncating homeroom. The rest is for the administration to decide.