Ally Bivens

(Fort Mill, S.C.) – Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, S.C. has changed its school schedule in order to reduce the number of students in attendance daily, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The York County School District created a schedule that splits the students into two groups and labels them as A or B day students, which alternate the days of the week they go to school in person and attend virtually.

“I feel like I’ll be missing out on a lot of things this year, such as prom, spirit week and football games,” said Erek Ortiz, a senior at Nation Ford.

Ortiz, like many other students this year, is unable to have the traditional senior experience of celebrating with friends and commemorating his time spent in school.

Ortiz said he doesn’t like the new schedule, because all of his friends go to school on A days, while he goes on B days.

However, other students have said they appreciate the new format.

“I like the schedule,” said Felix Jose Rivera, a junior at Nation Ford. “I can get some of my responsibilities done the days I’m not at school and really go at my own pace.”

When students are not at school, they have required assignments from their teachers that are graded and count towards their daily attendance.

Rivera rides the bus to school each day and he said that experience has also changed due to COVID-19.

“There’s a lot of empty seats on the bus, because we have to sit at least two rows from each other. We also have to wear our masks the whole time we are on the bus,” he said.

Teachers are also trying to adjust to the A/B day schedule.

Holly Bentley, an art teacher at Nation Ford, described the new schedule as “trying to do two jobs at one time.”

She said teachers are responsible for the same number of kids, but have to have two different lessons for the students who are at home and the ones in the classroom each day.

Bentley said while the number of students at school at a time has lowered, she still has 18 students in her biggest class and 12 in her smallest.

“I thought I would like this schedule, but right now it feels like too many different things going on at one time,” said Erin Mountain, another art teacher at Nation Ford.

Mountain, who currently teaches a drawing class, said it’s challenging to try to maintain social distance in the classroom, because students need to gather around objects as a group in order to draw them.

Every student at Nation Ford had the option to attend classes fully online, if they felt it necessary.

However, families had to make a decision at the beginning of the year and then stick with that method of learning for the entire school year.

“They gave you the option for whether you wanted to do online learning or face to face. However, the online option does not give you access to IEP (the individualized education program), so I personally had to choose the A/B day schedule,” said Ortiz.

Nation Ford High School and the other schools in the York County district plan to follow this alternating day schedule for the remainder of the school year.