McNary plans get more detailed

Starting September 14, McNary High School students will be returning to classes with comprehensive distance learning. However, many students and parents are still wondering what this means for the rest of the year and their transcripts. 

Erik Jespersen, principal at McNary, recently released a video to explain what will be expected for the school year,

For starters, Jespersen said, McNary will switch to quarters instead of semesters. Semesters that were 18 weeks long are being changed to four quarters that are nine weeks each. Students will have a four classes per quarter instead of the normal courseload of eight classes. 

“Students that take a full load of classes will meet virtually in class for four periods, each lasting 90 minutes twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday). On their ‘off day’ students will be responsible for doing tasks assigned by their instructor. The length of time that would take depends on the course,” Jespersen said. 

Students will be able to earn half a credit per course per quarter. The change will mean traditionally year-long classes will be completed in two quarters. The Salem-Keizer School Board is also considering offering advanced placement (AP) courses in quarters two and three. The organization that administers AP tests is not changing the May 2021 test dates thus far. That could result in a months-long lag between a student completed AP coursework by the end of the first semester, in February, and taking the actual exam if things remain unchanged. 

Teachers will be reaching out to students beginning Sept. 8 to inform their individual students how their classes will work and what is to be expected for the year. It will also be a time for students to ask any questions they may have. Students will still be connecting with teachers everyday throughout the academic year. 

Even with the major changes, it is unlikely that students will be able to complete two years of core classes, such as language arts, during the next academic year.

“That won’t likely occur because we have limitations on when we can assign students to certain classes. A sophomore would complete a year’s worth of English in 18 weeks and then they would be signed up to take a different year-long class that would likely be grade appropriate,” Jespersen said.

McNary students that are on track to graduate will be eligible for a release period. Seniors that are ready to graduate will also be eligible for an early graduation. 

“I anticipate we will have more seniors graduate earlier this year than any other time in my career,” Jespersen said. 

School administrators also understand that some students still have belongings in the building and are currently putting a plan together so that students can safely retrieve their items.

Students and parents that have questions can submit them to a Google form at 

Jespersen will be making more video announcements before the school year starts to inform students about how the year will run.