Students know these meetings by many names: advisory periods, check-ins, homerooms. They are small interclass Zoom rooms divided by students’ interests to keep the Uni community engaged and talking with one another during this unprecedented period of online school. Since the announcement of the advisory meetings in September, there have been 5 meetings of these check-ins designed to keep the Uni student body connected while in online school.
In late September, Interim Director Elizabeth Majerus announced the upcoming implementation of short Zoom rooms students must log into in order to be marked present for Wednesdays. Initially beginning as an extra meeting with 3rd period classes, they transitioned into topic-based rooms for which everyone, except seniors, was required to sign up.
The assortment of topics to choose from was designed to foster a community among students, according to Majerus. The rooms would give students a chance to share and bond over something apart from regular classes. There had been no such opportunities for students up to that point.
Majerus cited this lack of in-person connection to classmates and other Uni students as the motivation for the creation of these advisory meetings by the Uni administration. Majerus said the goal was to have “no student falling through the cracks” without the in-person connections that students have when they cross paths with each other in the halls.
Unfortunately, the experience is inconsistent as it depends on the room that the student joined at the beginning of the semester. One junior, Elias Finkelman said that sometimes he spends hours talking with those in his homeroom and other times everyone spends only long enough to be marked present. In Elias’ room, the participants are split up based on grade level so they can interact with people they are familiar with.
Michael Li, a junior, who is in a different meeting room says that no one besides his advisory teacher has ever turned on their camera or unmuted themselves. Li says that the interclass group is “probably not comfortable” with each other. Li says that the short meetings can be easily forgotten despite them being the attendance that is logged for the day.
While it is common knowledge that the Wednesday meetings are used to log attendance, some confusion still surrounds what happens when you miss the 20 to 30 minute Zoom meeting. One student, junior Jonathan Yu, said he “received an absence for the whole day so it showed up in [his] Powerschool for every class.” Yu is enrolled in 7 classes this semester so it appeared that he received 7 absences for missing the short meeting.
Dr. Radnitzer confirmed what Yu believed. As the Wednesday meeting is the only meeting of the day, a missed meeting is reported as a missed school day to the state. Radnitzer said that the administration have 3 staff members currently working to change the way attendance is logged so that this may be only one absence in the future.