An Insight Into Current Students’ Life
The school district announced three schedule options for current highschool students. The choices were hybrid, online, and blended in which each student would either attend school, do everything online, or a mix of the two. However, due to Orange County staying on the watch list, the return of the hybrid students were postponed until coronavirus cases in Orange County died down. All students have now had to learn to adjust to school online on a computer and so have the clubs of each school.
Although most clubs usually offer volunteering opportunities through hospitals, shelters, or other events, this has now become impossible due to corona. Many of the clubs now offer online volunteering opportunities which involve donating time to help edit websites or to tutor other students through a virtual meeting service, like Zoom. Another opportunity to volunteer is by preparing care packages. Care package runs are organized by clubs that gather the different packages to drop off at shelters or to donate to local hospitals. Such packages vary from health products such as masks, food, and even encouraging letters to helpers around the community. As clubs have learned to adjust to a new environment so have the students attending school, however, it seems that the current situation will also be continuously changing.
Since Orange County has been taken off the watch list for at least two weeks since Sunday of August 23rd, school districts in Orange County have started preparing the return of the students. The state further took action by creating a system of four tiers in order to ensure safety of the citizens. The tiers range from yellow, orange, pink, and purple each standing for minimal, moderate, substantial, and widespread respectively. Since it was announced on September 8th by the California Department of Public Health that Orange County was moved to the orange tier, the preparation was given a bigger boost. An example of a preparing high school is Portola High School in the Irvine Unified School district. Preparations began in the form of dividing the many students into two cohorts, Cohort A and Cohort B according to last name in order to prevent unnecessary contact. To further allow teachers and schools to prepare, IUSD announced that September 21 and 22 will become non-students days for IUSD students in all three programs. Through observation, it can be seen that many have worked long and hard to make in-person school happen, but there are still opinions against returning to school, even for students in the hybrid program.
Teachers in the IUSD school district have voiced concerns against returning to school on September 24th, due to the first reason being the quality of teaching hybrid models may provide. Instructors have claimed that hybrid teaching would create avoidable risks although the program would not be as efficient as traditional teaching and believe that the hybrid model creates environments that are antithetical to learning. Also unlike distance learning, which is also hugely different from traditional teaching, it has been claimed that hybrid models are not able to implement the effective instructional strategies that distance learning can offer, an example being the use of breakout rooms which allows students to socialize and for teachers to offer one-on-one teaching opportunities which will be hard to come by in hybrid learning. Another reason against the return to in-person school that teachers have voiced is jeopardizing the safety of many. Since testing is not as widely available, as one would hope for, it will be difficult to diagnose and restrict the infected patients from coming to school. Iit is unreasonable to expect school to have perfect social distancing as enforcement of such rules at all times is near impossible due to the sizes of the classrooms and numbers of students in each class. Also, relying on students and their families to report their own coronavirus cases are not a failsafe option for many who feel that their own lives and their family members’ lives are at risk. Petitions have been signed with one petition having as many as 2244 signatures of members of the IUSD school district as of September 19th.
As concern for safety and education consistently arise in this pandemic, it is hoped that a solution to satisfy most parties will be able to be implemented. Also, we would like to encourage all students during these difficult times to remain hard working and positive despite the difficulties of inexperienced programs and online learning.