Crossed Opinions on Cross-Streaming

SHSMr.SipeOn October 15th, the Scarsdale High School administration announced that teachers will be experimenting with cross-streaming in upcoming weeks. Currently, the student body is divided into two groups, Cohort A and Cohort B. Cohort A attends in-person morning classes on Mondays and Thursdays while Cohort B attends in-person morning classes on Tuesdays and Fridays. Both cohorts have Zoom classes in the afternoon of all weekdays except Wednesdays. Wednesdays serve as an asynchronous day to allow for students to meet with teachers virtually and complete pre-assigned work.

Cross-streaming entails teachers allowing students to Zoom into the in-person morning classes of their opposite cohort. Cohort A would attend their normally scheduled in-person morning classes on Mondays and Thursdays while streaming in the other cohorts in-person morning classes on Tuesdays and Fridays. Likewise, Cohort B would attend their normally scheduled in-person morning classes on Tuesdays and Fridays while streaming in the other cohorts in-person morning classes on Mondays and Thursdays. “The options that have been presented for streaming include connecting with the home cohort at the beginning of class, connecting with the home cohort at the beginning and end of class, and keeping the home cohort engaged throughout the lesson as observers or participants,” explained Principal Bonamo in a follow-up email on October 18th.

During the days leading up to the announcement, whispers of cross-streaming spread across Scarsdale High School, mainly under the assumption that it would meet parents' desire for more instructional time. Currently, a teacher has to teach the same lesson twice, once to each cohort. With cross-streaming, a teacher would be able to teach a lesson to the entire class during one class period. As cross-streaming would maximize class time, it could potentially lead to the coverage of more material and curriculum, which would ease some students’ thoughts of being unprepared for standardized tests such as AP exams, regents and SAT2s.

Although cross-streaming has benefits, it also follows with a myriad of drawbacks. For example, cross-streaming in the mornings may negatively affect students' mental health. Over the past few years, Scarsdale High School has prioritized students’ well-being with the implementation of mindfulness into the curriculum, the presence of several mental health awareness associations as well as the offering of meditation programs. Forcing students to increase their already heightened screen time may result in Zoom fatigue, a recently coined term meaning exhaustiveness due to the overuse of technology, which could potentially undo all the efforts Scarsdale has made.

Scarsdale High School students have also established the collective opinion that the current hybrid model allows for sufficient sleep and maximized time to complete assignments. Cross-streaming may add several fifty-minute Zoom sessions in the morning where they could
have been sleeping to better their physical and mental health or completing assigned work. As a result, students could become increasingly stressed.

“Parents are expecting students to adhere to a work schedule in a way that is less cognizant of the unique mental health demands of teens. More sleep, and less screen time, are challenges to teens’ mental health that COVID has uniquely allowed us to address. We should keep these benefits during this trying time. We also need to focus on quality versus quantity. We dilute the value of in the class time of which there is already so little when we unfairly expect teachers to split their time and energy between students in the classroom and those out of it,” remarked Benjamin Ewing ‘22 at the recent Board of Education meeting.

A primary concern thus is whether or not cross-streaming will take away from the effectiveness of the already limited in-person classroom time. If one class is learning a lesson online and the other class is learning it in-person, then the latter group will have an advantage and better synthesize the material. Teachers may also struggle equally engaging the in-person class and Zoom class. Time may be wasted as the teacher tries to adapt to teaching through two different mediums simultaneously, which could detract from the limited in-person class time. One commonly experienced issue is that students on Zoom have a hard time hearing from their in-person counterparts, leading to them not fully comprehending the teachers’ remarks.

A feasible mode of cross-streaming is that it will be department specific and used for classes where there is a clear chance for enhanced learning and not for classes where it would not make logical sense. For example, it could be a successful tool in the math department whereas it renders itself useless in hands-on art electives.

There is no indication as to whether or not experimenting with cross-streaming will affect the asynchronous model of Wednesdays. Wednesdays serve as a day where students can engage in virtual office hours, listen to pre-recorded lectures, complete assignments, and meet with clubs virtually. If cross-streaming has the potential to affect the current nature of Wednesdays, Scarsdale residents, both students, and parents, will consider cross-streaming in different terms.

In a year labeled as chaotic and unprecedented, the question is whether or not changing the school schedule, which a majority of students have adapted and developed a liking to, is the correct move. “I understand the parent’s concern for the learning of their children, but ultimately we should focus on helping teachers maximize our current hybrid model rather than instituting something which has caused both teachers and students to express concern and dismay,” said Ebonie Kibalya ‘22.

However, it is important to understand that the Scarsdale High School administration is asking all teachers to try cross-streaming, emphasizing that the decision is not final nor should be
perceived as so. “I am confident that a genuine spirit of inquiry and the integration of feedback from all members of the school community will lead us to an approach that has the broadest possible benefit to our students, which as always is the guiding principle of our work,” concluded Principal Ken Bonamo in his latest email.

SydneyPiccoliThis article was written by Sydney Piccoli, a junior at SHS. She has a passion for writing and hopes you enjoy reading her articles!