Too Much Work?

“Have you been sitting at your desk all day long without any time to do anything else? Have you been working longer than your parents?” These are the relatable questions in a petition to the Howard County Public School System, created by Jaden Dorapalli. As a freshman at Howard High School, Dorapalli has encouraged thousands of students to use their voices to fight for manageable amounts of homework. 

Virtual learning has been a struggle for countless students, not just in Centennial but across the county. The increased computer time can be strenuous, and with both classes and homework online, students spend a majority of their day in front of a screen. To maintain a balanced schedule for students, and to minimize the time spent on a computer, the HCPSS virtual learning model included a 3-4 hour weekly limit of work outside of instructional time per class. However, as revealed in Dorapalli’s petition, Howard County students feel as though the model is not being followed, and that they are instead spending more and more time each day staring at a computer screen. 

“I would stay up until 12am, even 1am some nights, and I have friends who said they were doing the same,” said Dorapalli. “It was shocking… are we really supposed to be sitting at our computers all day long, from morning until night? We need to have a clearer understanding of this policy between teachers and students.” 

Dorapalli’s petition, called,  “Make HCPSS schools give reasonable amounts of work,” strives to reduce the workload to the original 3-4 hours per class per week. 

Created last month, the petition has gotten 2,991 signatures and counting from students across the county.  “I didn’t expect it to blow up that much. I had initially said that if we get 100 signatures by the next week, I would send [the petition] to the principal and email the Board of Education,” said Dorapalli. “I was going to be happy with 100 but we [have] close to 3000 signatures now.”

However, the petition has done more than just gain the attention of students. Dorapalli has met with his school’s principal, Nick Novak, to discuss how teachers can communicate and work with their students. Teachers have started asking students how long assignments are taking as well as collecting feedback on the structure and timeliness of the work. Dorapalli has even started to see some differences in some of his class workload. 

“A lot of teachers have implemented changes to the workload since these talks, but some have not,” he recognized. “It’s about really making [it] clear that this is an expectation that we should be following.”

Dorapalli has also worked with the Student Government Association, scheduling a virtual Howard County Association of Student Councils General Assembly to discuss both workload and virtual school in general, another outcome of the petition. The assembly will be held on November 11 from 7:00-8:30 pm, and Dorapalli is encouraging middle and high school students to attend. 

“This meeting is to discuss the challenges of virtual learning, the workload, and how we can improve it,” announced Dorapalli through an Instagram story. “I’ll be speaking at the meeting, on why I created the petition and on the negative effects of the large workload on students.”

Despite its success, there are a couple of negative comments on the petition, not from teachers, but from students. “Some of my friends I used to have in middle school went on to private school and came back to this petition to leave [negative] comments,” said Dorapalli. “I think that if it really isn’t affecting you, you shouldn’t have anything to say about it. Or you can just not sign because in order to make a comment you have to sign the petition originally.” 

However, with the exclusion of a negative comment or two, there has been an overwhelming amount of support for the cause. The most liked comment on the petition says, “It’s not about learning anymore, it’s only about passing.” Other students in the comments discuss how they are missing out on family time, unable to socialize with friends, and never get to spend time outside, all because they have hours of classwork due each day. 

Dorapalli empathizes with almost all the signers. “I didn’t have as much time to spend with my family, even oftentimes during dinner I would have to take [my dinner] up to my desk and eat while doing my work,” he stated. “You know, you’re supposed to have time to spend with your family, and when you’re living with them that’s the time in your life you get to spend with them. School is really taking away a lot of that.”

Dorapalli is asking students to sign the petition and attend the General Assembly to let their voices be heard. Students can find more information for the General Assembly on the HCASC Instagram, @_hcasc_, and can sign his petition using the link


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.