Maya Amit — Option A to Option B


Courtesy Maya Amit

Senior Maya Amit paints an original mural in Union Square, San Francisco, alongside other local art installations.

A dedicated artist, tutor and self-described “workaholic,” senior Maya Amit chose to switch from Option A to Option B after a difficult first semester. Like most of her peers, Maya initially selected Option A in the summer because she was unacquainted with Option B and unsure of the differences in curriculum and rigor.

“With Option B, I didn’t know who the teachers were, what the platform was like, none of that,” Maya said. “Everyone else was doing Option A, so it just felt safer, like the more normal route.”

Over time, though, Maya began to realize that Option A wasn’t meeting her academic and social needs as well as she thought. The hours spent in front of the screen felt overwhelming and didn’t replicate the meaningful peer interactions she experienced at school before the pandemic. And with an immunocompromised family member in the household, Maya knew that she wouldn’t be able to physically return to school through Option A even if the administration gradually expanded in-person learning.

With those realizations in mind, Maya enrolled in Option B when the opportunity came around in early December. She became one of only 39 Option A students who transitioned to the student-paced option.

“Even though I am school-oriented and a hard worker, Option A really wasn’t working for me in regard to my mental health,” Maya said. “For me, Option B became the safer option because it’s always constant regardless of what’s happening with the COVID-19 situation or the School Board’s decisions.”

So far, Maya has not once regretted her decision. Her new schedule gives her ample free time to pursue other interests while allowing her to maintain academic rigor.

Under Option A, a typical day for Maya might have included four to five hours of Zoom lessons followed by an equal amount of time doing homework. Now, her self-paced schoolwork is limited to a total of around six hours per day.

“It’s been so much easier to balance my time,” Maya said. “I have time to tutor in art and enjoy hobbies like running. Before, my mind would be occupied by school for 12 hours of the day. Now, I can just wake up when I decide to start school, sit in front of the computer and do it. I have the discipline to do it all at once, and maybe a little bit extra at night if I feel like it.”

Maya was also pleasantly surprised by Option B’s quality of learning, particularly with regard to its pre-recorded lectures. In fact, after a month of self-paced instruction, she believes she’s become a better learner due to the new lesson format.

“With pre-recorded videos, all the social anxiety that comes with being on Zoom is removed, which I find really, really helpful,” Maya said. “In Option A, you might be too tired to pay attention or too scared to ask questions in a live lecture, but now I feel like I can take my time to really understand the content.”

Going in, Maya knew that her decision to switch options would come with some caveats. Since she’s in the second semester of her senior year, Maya recognized that switching to Option B would mean the decisive end of any hope for spending in-person time with her classmates before graduation. However, this was already unlikely under Option A due to her safety concerns.

Since the switch, Maya’s peer interactions have been a little limited due to the lack of a live classroom setup, though she feels that Zoom classes weren’t a particularly good environment for fostering connections anyway. She’s still been able to interact with her close friend group and affirms that her decision has positively impacted her mental health overall.

“Option A has made me cry way too many times, so I’m glad I made the switch,” Maya said. “I’m a lot less stressed with Option B and I can spend more time doing things that I love, although I will say that it’s not for everyone. You have to be responsible for getting yourself up and doing the work when no one’s telling you to.”