New year brings changes

Policy updates support students regarding health, identity, workload


Matthew McGehee

This year, minor adjustments have been made regarding mental health days and workload in the student handbook. One policy outlines that assessments may not be administered two days after school breaks.

Clare O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief

Students and faculty returned to a school year schedule on Sept. 6, adjusting to this year’s minor changes and updates. Many of the changes focus on promoting wellness through clarification and extra support for both students and teachers.
One addition to this year’s student handbook acknowledges students’ difficulty balancing homework load and reminds students to consider the expected time commitment for their chosen courses. Last spring’s program of studies introduced an expected time commitment for classes.
Dean of Students Ana Campos said many of the changes focus on student wellness. This addition, under the “Workload at U-High” section of the handbook, addresses wellness by giving students agency to limit certain stressors.
“We have a population of kids that really are in some ways overtaxed — they just have too much going on,” Ms. Campos said. “This was an attempt to try and help kind of normalize that it’s OK to not do it all, it’s OK to have some balance. Those are some personal choices that students make, and the school is trying to help students make those choices.”
The handbook also codifies U-High’s mental health day policy. Students have been allowed mental health absences in the past, but now mental health days are listed as a type of absence in the handbook. According to the handbook, mental health days will count toward absence thresholds.
While the handbook focuses on how students should address the issue of homework balance, the administration is also asking teachers to help students navigate their work.
Every teacher was provided an assignment planner listing days where assignments are not allowed, like Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks and the two days following each break.
The planner also includes religious holidays and U-High extracurricular events. Teachers are not required to alter their assignment schedule around these listed dates but are encouraged to consider these holidays and events as they plan their assignments.
The handbook also clarifies the assignment regulations put in place during the previous school year. The handbook outlines that all assignments due the next day must be posted before 4 p.m. on a weekday, and that homework can not be due on weekends outside of extensions.
Other changes this year focus on affirming students’ gender identities. These changes are detailed in the new “Gender Identity Support” section of the student handbook.
Students can add their correct pronouns and names in PowerSchool and Schoology, helping teachers and other school adults avoid incorrectly referring to a student. Students who want to change how they are referred to in the schools’ systems can use a form to request the changes they want. The form allows students to request that their teachers be informed of a different name and set of pronouns, that their name be changed in the schools’ electronic systems, to be given a new ID card with corrected information or for P.E. accommodations.