Administration attempts to ease student stress with homework-free weekend

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ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ/SAGAMORE STAFF

Head of School Anthony Meyer called for a homework-free weekend this weekend amidst higher levels of student stress.

An email from Head of School Anthony Meyer was sent to faculty last Friday, Oct. 8 calling for a homework-free weekend over Oct. 15-17 in response to feedback from students and staff about high levels of stress.

“In order to start addressing both our acute and chronic issues, I ask the following: teachers, I ask you to prepare to participate in a homework-free weekend on 10/15-17,” Meyer wrote.

On Oct. 15, Meyer sent another email, this time to students, acknowledging the student stress throughout the first half of the quarter.

In this email, Meyer wrote teachers were given little notice, which affected participation in the homework-free weekend.

“I asked teachers to consider participating in a homework-free weekend this weekend. I want to be clear that this was an ask I made only last Friday (10/8). The truth is that most of our teachers plan their curriculum weeks and months in advance, so making last-minute changes like what I requested is difficult,” Meyer wrote. “And they are humans too, trying to balance their work at BHS and lives outside of it.”

According to Guidance Coordinator Darby Neff-Verre, concerns about stress levels have been present since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent amplification of stress levels led administrators to announce this homework-free weekend.

“Even pre-pandemic, there have been concerns about how the amount of homework and the level of homework for many students here has impacted them in their functioning and their mental health,” Neff-Verre said.

Guidance counselor Richard Gorman said it is important to recognize that a homework-free weekend may not be an effective solution to combating student stress.

“I’m not sure how a school could say ‘there’s no homework’ or ‘there’s nothing for you to do’ because some students are always going to do work,” Gorman said.

Neff-Verre said in addition to high stress levels, the lack of sleep many students are experiencing is another reason for a homework-free weekend.

“One of my biggest concerns is the lack of sleep. There is almost a level of competition between students about the least amount of sleep and comparing hours and how that is hugely detrimental to how young people’s brains work,” Neff-Verre said. “To be able to do the work that you’re doing when you’re supposedly not getting the sleep means that you’re not doing your best work and it takes longer to do.”

Neff-Verre said balance is an important factor in having a successful and healthy student lifestyle.

“If you’re prone to anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, lack of sleep exponentially exacerbates those issues,” Neff-Verre said. “We are trying to work as best as we can to talk with students as they’re developing their schedule or after their schedules have developed to constantly be talking about balance.”

Neff-Verre said the conversation about homework and its impact on students needs to continue past this weekend.

“I think the homework piece is something that we need to keep talking about as a school community,” Neff-Verre said. “Clearly, last year we were more flexible on all different aspects of schoolwork.”

This article was edited due to changing information 6:00 p.m., 10/15/2021.