Editorial: Lack of communication about midyears results in stress and anxiety

Editorial: Lack of communication about midyears results in stress and anxiety

Midyears: the word on everyone’s minds. With less than a week to go and a lack of communication between the staff and students, it’s hard to imagine that they will go well for everyone.

In an email to students on Dec. 10, 2021, Head of School Anthony Meyer wrote that midyears will run from Tuesday, Jan. 18 to Friday, Jan. 21. He acknowledged that this has been a hard year for everyone and was insistent on the fact that the midyear exams will be more relaxed than in previous years.

“We also understand how critical it is to balance these educational needs with a focus on your socio-emotional needs. BHS teachers and staff are sensitive to student stress and anxiety—always, and especially this year. As a result, we are slowing down midyear exams so that they last four days, rather than the usual three,” Meyer said.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the rise of COVID cases in the upcoming weeks, it is inevitable that the exams will only add to the stress students are currently experiencing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Datatracker, the amount of COVID-19 cases per day in the United States reached an all-time high on Jan. 4. On Jan. 3, all Brookline public schools had to close for the day due to insufficient staffing as a result of the high numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“We simply do not have the staffing capacity to operate all schools safely,” the Public Schools of Brookline said in a statement on their website.

Following the snow day on Friday, Jan. 7, Meyer released a new email announcing that midyears had been pushed back 2 days to begin on Thursday, Jan. 21.

In order to support students, midyears were designed to be 45-minute tests that are taken in a 90-minute period. Students are to remain in the classroom the whole time. Yet with the pandemic so prevalent, it seems counterintuitive to increase the amount of time students are in close contact with each other as it increases the risk of potential COVID-19 transmission.

Despite being less than a week away from the first testing day, many teachers have yet to disclose the details of their midyear exams. Content, format and point-value remain a mystery for many students. It is hard for students to start preparing, especially considering that half of the school’s student body has never taken midterms in their academic careers.

Students who have taken midterms in the past face increasing challenges due to the pandemic. If their teachers contract COVID-19, they will miss a week of in-person schooling right before midyears, and vice versa, if a student gets the virus, they will miss a week of school, and there are little to no resources to support them for virtual learning.

Because of a lack of clear directions and communication both within faculty and faculty to students, many students feel severely unprepared for them.

The way that midyears have been organized this year is frustrating to the student body. We need time to prepare for these exams, and finding out the week before is simply not enough. The utter lack of communication between many teachers and students has resulted in a typically anxious time of the year becoming even more stressful.