In-Person School Brings Changes to Olathe West


Meredith McCalmon, Writer

The rise of COVID-19 brought societal and personal changes to most of the world’s population. Restaurants closed down, people began to distance themselves, and toilet paper became scarce. Students at Olathe West last year were greatly impacted by the virus, as learning was delayed and school moved online. This year, students are back in the building at full capacity and many are getting a taste of normalcy. With the return of fully in-person classes, the administration of West has had to enforce new policies to ensure the safety of the students and staff. 


New Lunch Schedule

Upperclassmen at Olathe West remember Power 50, where students had a 50-minute lunch. They could visit teachers and eat lunch in places such as the learning stairs or blended learning labs. 

The lunch protocol for this year looks quite different, though. 

Students are sorted into four groups depending on their fourth/fifth hour class, and sent to eat lunch at their assigned times. 

Students are restricted to eating on the first floor, and only have a 25 minute break to eat. Like last year, meals are still free for students.

Many students have mixed feelings about the new lunch schedule.

“[Power 50] was a really good opportunity to see your teachers,” junior Mackenzie Wealot said. “But I like lunch the way it is now. It’s less stressful, and with COVID going on, we have less capacity at our lunches.” 

The new system for lunch was enacted in order to minimize the spread of COVID, as well as create a more efficient school schedule. 


A.I Time

The biggest change at West this year, according to Wealot, is the implementation of A.I. Time. In years past, the schedule included advisory and seminar on Thursdays only, a time where students could catch up on homework, visit teachers, and plan for the future. This year, advisory and seminar are replaced by A.I. Time. Students have A.I. Time 4 days a week; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and it involves more structured lesson plans than Advisory did.

“A.I. Time is especially good for the junior students because we’re taking the ACT this year,” Wealot said. “It helps us prep for college scholarships, and you learn good social skills. It’s really good for our future.” 


Moving Classrooms

When Olathe West first opened up, teachers would switch classrooms each day to provide a flexible learning environment for students. This system came to a halt last year, as COVID-19 required contact tracing and teachers stayed in the same rooms all year. 

However, this week teachers began moving rooms again. Students can access the room schedule via an app on their laptop/phone or by watching the kiosks around the school. Many students, though, find this process overwhelming and confusing. 

“After last year, I’m not a big fan of [moving classrooms],” junior Simon Grube said. “I liked how the teachers were stationary, and a lot of teachers I know preferred it. It’s probably confusing for the freshman coming in, too, but I feel like they’re executing it well.” 


Bell Schedule

Last year, the Olathe West bell schedule moved to block scheduling every day. Classes alternated between odd and even every other day. This year, much like the switching of classrooms, the bell schedule has reverted to seven-period days, with block scheduling on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Many students prefer the new schedule. 

“When we did block scheduling, I could not sit in a classroom for that long,” Wealot said. “It was really stressful and unhelpful.” 

Other students, like Grube, preferred block scheduling every day. 

“I did prefer block scheduling every day,” he said. “It helped with doing homework. You’d get homework for even days, and it was due two days from then instead of the next day. We had a good system.” 

While many lives were turned upside down by the pandemic, students and staff at Olathe West are optimistic about the new school year, and are constantly on the lookout to keep those in the building healthy and content.