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Controversial Flex system debuted at Paly

A new Flex schedule and attendance system began on Sept. 5, stiffening attendance requirements and reducing flexibility for students, but helping teachers with accountability regarding the whereabouts of their students.

The new system, modeled on the system Gunn High School has used for the past two years, was announced a week ago in an email from Principal Kim Diorio to Paly parents.

Most students were informed of the new system through a Schoology post last week from Assistant Principal Janice Chen.

“I like [the new Flex system] because it has accountability for attendance because we are accountable for safety of the students,” said Paly math teacher Sharla May.

In this new system, students are required to attend Flex on both Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 2:50 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. respectively, and to remain in one classroom for the entire Flex period.

In addition, the new attendance system requires students to check with a teacher in the beginning of Flex. There is also a new app which students can use to setup a meeting with their teachers.

In June, the Palo Alto Unified School District announced a new schedule for the 2017-18 school year because the old schedule did not fulfill the state requirement of 54,000 instructional minutes per school year.

The Paly Bell Schedule Review Committee fixed this problem by adding additional time for a required Flex period on Thursdays for students whose advisory classes are not meeting.

Teachers are mostly appreciative of the accountability with the new Flex system, because they are liable for student’s safety during the period.  However the general consensus among students seems to take a different stance.

Many are not happy with the requirements, especially the mandate that students need to stay in one location for the entire duration of Flex.

They say it does not allow them to take care of multiple tasks in one period and results in inefficiency.  With a number of demanding courses, students feel the need to visit multiple teachers.

Senior Nicholas Zhao said, “It’s not very flexible [to have to stay in one classroom for the whole period] and it’s ironic to the name because it’s supposed to be flexible.”

Despite the changes and the seemingly restrictive new system, after only two completed Flex sessions administrators are asking students to give the system a try.

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