EYE 2 EYE: Are zero periods a good idea?


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Keep Zero Period!

New instructional minutes law was a change for the worse  

By: Bing Heine-Van Fossen, Staff Writer

Nothing like waking up with the sunrise to attend school right? Well, to most kids that doesn’t sound like that great of an idea, but it won’t stop them from attending zero period to get ahead in their credits and courses. At first glance, zero period may not seem appealing to students, however, it offers a wide variety of classes through shorter periods that happen four days a week. 

Attending a zero period course will allow students to take another class or elective throughout the year or it will allow for upperclassmen to have a free period at some point in the year. This is extremely helpful to maintaining a short school day as well as maintaining a support period every single day.

“Zero period has helped me to balance my sports and academics,” freshman Ella Broms said. There are many students at OPHS that do sports afterschool or even during school. This creates a big issue because now some sports will have to move their practices back in the day. Also, any sports games or tournaments will have to be pushed back later in the day. This will result in athletes getting home later, and having less time for homework and sleep. 

A law signed off by California legislation was put into place to deter instructional minutes before the hours of 8:30 a.m., which creates cause for concern as OPHS’s zero period (in the status quo) can no longer be counted for instructional minutes.

Students, do not fear all of your grades and credits will still count. The reason this is an issue is because schools must meet a certain amount of instructional minutes throughout the year, and now the current zero period, which equates to 60 minutes four day a week, can no longer be counted for instructional minutes going into the next school year.

OPUSD has worked out a new schedule for next year that involves longer blockers as well as an optional zero period in the morning, but 7th period is now gone. This is concerning because now it will be harder for students to ask questions, make up missed quizzes and tests, as well as gather and get caught up on missed work.

Not to mention, next year there will still be a zero period option, but it will start at 7:15 a.m., which is five minutes earlier than normally, and on top of that the school day will last a whole hour and one minute longer. The opposition says that this new law was put into place so that students can get more sleep, but now students who take zero period will be forced to wake up earlier and likely go to bed later, just causing a bigger issue. 

Let’s not forget that OPUSD is a district of choice school, meaning that students who live outside the school district can still attend if selected and proper paperwork is filled out. It is not uncommon at OPHS to have students that live anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes away from the school. The travel time may not sound like much, but traveling that far twice a day adds up, as it is 20 to 40 minutes earlier students must wake up and 20 to 40 minutes later students will have to go to bed. 

Now, not only will students be getting one less hour of sleep from the school day going longer, they will also have to factor in the sleep they will be losing with commute times. Also, because school will be ending one hour later, rush hour will also shrink students’ schedules, with school ending by 3:26 p.m. Most students are able to avoid rush hour and make it home in time to do all the homework from their classes. But with this new schedule that may no longer be the case.

Homework must get done one way or another, leaving students to sacrifice their sleep in order to maintain their grades. Students already share horror stories on campus about their lack of sleep and how it continues to plunge. Yet, when the government attempts to help, all they are doing is hurting students more and dragging us through the dirt. It almost seems as if the whole “no child left behind” campaign has turned to the “no child gets to sleep” campaign.

Less stress will lead to more success

Enforcing kinder schedules is the key to healthier learning

By: Mara Hankins, Staff Writer

I’m currently taking a zero period class as a freshman and will continue to enroll in them until I graduate high school. I depend on the opportunity to make room for more courses and it would be painstaking to have to choose between the things I’m passionate about if I had to cut down on electives. And yet, when I met with my counselor to review next year’s schedule, I was a little disappointed when I found out that I had been successfully enrolled in a zero period class.

As inconvenient as it would have been, the inability to take a zero period would have forced me to reconsider my options. I think other ambitious students will be able to relate when I say that I push myself too hard and take on too much work. It’s gotten to a point where I have conditioned myself to believe that it’s an obligation to compound more and more activities and classes. 

It’s hard to stop a downward spiral unless someone else pulls the plug for you.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “the teen brain is still developing, [and] may respond to stress differently than adults.” Teens are vulnerable to the development of mental disorders as their brain rapidly changes, the foremost stress-related conditions being depression and anxiety.

Crucial in eliminating stress, sleep is a factor directly impacted by zero period. Zero periods do not adhere to the block schedule, meaning students might have to spend every night doing homework without the buffer of a day in between each class. By the time sports, extracurriculars and other assignments are added, waking up early the following morning jeopardizes the 8-10 hours of sleep recommended by the CDC.

When teens don’t get enough rest each night, they face the effects of sleep deprivation: dropping grades, poor decisions, difficulties in concentration and suicidal thoughts. Rushing out the door to get to school by 7:20 a.m. is the opposite of a solution.

During a time categorized by the United States surgeon general as a “youth mental health crisis,” students, teachers and administrators must work together to ensure a healthy learning environment. That can mean dismantling school practices that aren’t conducive to learning, no matter how old or normalized they may be. Students can fit in all of their graduation requirements without adding an extra class to their school day. What they can’t do is continue to live with the pressure and anxiety response that an overwhelming workload brings.

When they do, it leads to burnout, a condition categorized as “a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.” In students, it can “reduce productivity and sap [their] energy, leaving [them] feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful.” 

We all need to play a role in transforming our society into one that prioritizes balance over a grueling day-to-day. The first step is to recognize it. The second step is to do something about it. It’s time to pull one another away from the edge, especially for the people who aren’t able to do it for themselves. Zero period should no longer be offered so that students may be well-rested and have their mental health preserved.


  • Students should be informed about their decision to take the class.
  • Students should be able to demonstrate how zero periods will impact their schedule and mental health.
  • From there, teachers and administrators should coordinate with students to curb any unnecessary stress and set an appropriate workload.
  • An easier process for dropping a zero period should be instated so that students are able to adjust their schedules when they realize the extra class has become detrimental to their mental health.