Many returning students were probably surprised to find eight periods on their schedule cards this year, typically one more than they signed up for. After closer examination, confused students found that one of these periods is lunch, a rather unlikely elective by most standards.So why is the 38-minute lunch block now considered to be fifth period?
Last year, MCPS received a mandate from the state that demanded lunch be calculated into the normal bell schedule. Listing a mealtime as a class may seem unnecessary, and likely to pile up extra paperwork for staff. However, the basis for this statewide decision is student attendance.
“All of this revolves around the attendance procedures,” said Assistant Principal Bradley Rohner. “The problem was that there was this gap in our schedule… between periods four and five, there was just this void.” Although the lunch period is part of the school day, the old schedule never officially recorded it.
According to the Maryland Board of Education attendance policy, students are counted present for a full school day if they attend school for at least four hours, but only half of a day if they attend between two and four hours. Attendance at lunch can determine whether a student is present for a full day or just half.
Much of the RHS community was distressed over the sudden change in class scheduling. Rohner is listed as the staff member in charge of lunch. “We even had a couple of calls from parents asking, ‘Oh, did we extend the day?’ when we really just put lunch into the schedule,” said Rohner.
Many students found the schedule change to be unnecessary. Senior Aaron Weerasinghe said, “It’s annoying; I don’t really see the point of making lunch into fifth period and making what was seventh period into eighth period.” Juniors and seniors are the most affected by the change, since they have used the seven-period schedule for at least six years, and are the most accustomed to the older schedule. As of the schedule change this year, lunch is also registered as a class on student Edline accounts.