Flex became inflexible for students starting Monday, March 28, and the time allotted for studying is now at risk of being eliminated. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, Flex was introduced to Westwood as an opportunity for students to catch up on work and slow down the hasty speed of high school education. Students can use Flex to finish up homework, make up tests, and get organized. However, this year, students have been skipping the 40 minute period and have not utilized the costly FlexTime Software to its fullest potential. With these rising absences between 5th and 6th block, Principal Dr. Mario Acosta stepped in last week to reform the system.
The administration’s plan is composed of multiple parts, the first being to contain students to their first/fifth block Flex. Since students travel to different classrooms for Flex after their first/fifth block depending on if it is an orange or white day, the goal of this strategy is to prohibit students from even having the opportunity to leave school grounds.
“I think it is not fair to students who need to make things up in other classes, especially athletes, and people with after-school and before school commitments.” Tayla Score ‘25 said. “It is kind of useless to stay in my first [and fifth] block flex.”
Due to this restriction on the beginning block of the day, those with morning off-blocks have to adjust to a new routine of entering school after Flex. In the past, students with morning off-blocks would have to come in for their Flex period. But without switching flexes, their “catch-all” Flex now is also their off-block. Now that tardies are being issued for students arriving during Flex, students with morning off-blocks must adjust to a new schedule of arriving at school later than usual.
“When I come in late after my off-block I received a tardy pass though I had an off-block,” Katie Liu ‘23 said “All the doors are locked, including the athletics doors, meaning I can’t get to my locker and I have to go all the way around the school to get in, making me even later.”
While Flex is planned to be suspended for only the next two weeks, this time allotted to reform is subject to change. The staff is divided in expecting an apprehensive learning process to be offered to students about how to properly use Flex or if the strategy taken will be effective at all.
“My concern is that the target audience for this reset does not respond well to this type of action. Instead, it will have the opposite impact and drive students away from school,” Theater teacher Ms. Lydia Coats said. “I think a targeted approach of identifying those students who are not actively utilizing flex and providing for them a benefitive space for them to learn how to use flex would be more effective.”
There have been mixed reactions to this new process being implanted into the Westwood schedule. Students have been voicing their concerns between each other and also through opinionated emails to staff. Some students have even started to plan a peaceful rally on Friday, April 1 to protest the change of the Flex routine.
“I don’t agree with the school’s execution of the solutions but I understand where this all is coming from.” Anneke van der Meer ‘25 said. “I think he should be punishing students individually rather than as a whole.”
On top of Flex cancellation, there have been other changes to Westwood’s workings at play including the management of cellular devices and the way students speak to teachers. A lot is changing, all beginning this week with the first alteration of the Flex schedule.
“I feel like it started with this Flex thing but suddenly the school has come up with something new that we‘ve done wrong every day and it has piled up and up.” Zaina Jafri ‘23 said. “I don’t see the issue with some of the things [Dr. Acosta is] saying because I don’t think everything is being communicated, like why we are losing money [when students skip flex].”
One of the biggest concerns of Flex and students skipping the period has been the financial aspects. The FlexTime Manager program costs a certain amount per user, and the administration is considering removing Flex in response to the spending of unnecessary money if students are stagnant in their “catch-all”.
“I understand from a teacher’s perspective how losing money is important to your school.” Nikita Raman ‘23 said. “But, they are taking out a punishment on a group of kids who can’t come before or after school. [This] is a mass punishment and mass punishment has never worked out.”
Though it is only the beginning of the Flex cancellation, students are already starting to feel passionate about its future return. The execution of the Flex reform has been a shock to everyone, students and staff alike, but most understand that it’s all in the light of a more organized educational environment. Overall, processing these new changes has been difficult, and the anticipation for change is beginning to buzz around the school. Whether Flex will continue to remain inflexible for the rest of the year remains to be seen. In the meantime, students and teachers continue to offer myriad solutions to the mounting problems being dealt with by the school in order to reinstate the invaluable 40 minutes to the school day.