The negative effects of the bell schedule on athletes and why this bell schedule must change

Student-athletes face struggles from longer school days

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Brooke Herstein / Talon

Brooke Herstein and Sydney Herstein

The majority of students and staff at Oak Park High School are unhappy with the extra hour added to everyone’s school day. However, student-athletes feel the negative effects of this new schedule more drastically than others do.

As many students at OPHS participate in sports, they are forced to miss a significant amount of class time due to this year’s bell schedule. For many sports, the time at which games and matches take place has remained the same even though school days now last an hour longer. 

As active members of the OPHS girls’ tennis team, the new bell schedule has significantly affected our game start times, dismissal times and the amount of class time missed. As the new schedule requires students to remain in school one hour longer than in past years, game start times for sports have either stayed the same or been slightly pushed back. For girls’ tennis, an effort was made to move start times later to offset the amount of class time missed. However, not all matches could be moved to a later time.

Even with a slightly later start time, matches still start at around 3:30 p.m. for a home game, requiring participating athletes to be dismissed from class at 2:45 p.m. For away games, travel times vary. Dismissal times as early as 1 p.m. demand that athletes miss a significant chunk of their last period of the day.

Many sacrifices are made when one is involved in a school sport, with or without the new bell schedule. However, the later end of every school day requires even more time and effort to get through the day. For tennis, we miss the majority of our last class period of the day two times every week. 

There is an overwhelming amount of make-up homework and classwork to be completed in addition to the missed instruction in class. It is easy to fall behind in lessons when absences continue to pile up throughout the sports seasons.

We have noticed that other students on our team and in other sports have struggled to balance the workload of regular school, the physical exertion of their sport, and the missing assignments and make-up tests they must complete. These missed tests often have to be completed during class instruction as 7th-period support no longer exists because of the new bell schedule. As a result, the athlete would miss yet another lesson and be trapped in this never-ending make-up cycle. This cycle often results in a lack of sleep and a deterioration in students’ mental health. 

For the sake of student-athletes’ work-life balance, mental health and all of the other reasons above, we believe that the new bell schedule needs to be changed for the years to come.