It’s No April Fool’s Joke

Schools Closed for Remainder of School Year- Prompts New Fears and Challenges for Students and Staff

A+photo+of+California+Governor+Gavin+Newsom+at+2019+California+Democratic+Party+State+Convention+in+San+Francisco.+Governor+Newsom+announced+on+April+1st+that+all+California+schools+won%27t+be+returning+to+campus+and+will+continue+the+school+year+through+%22distance+learning.%22+

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

A photo of California Governor Gavin Newsom at 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention in San Francisco. Governor Newsom announced on April 1st that all California schools won't be returning to campus and will continue the school year through "distance learning."

Along with updates about the Coronavirus and its acceleration, California Governor Gavin Newsom shared in a daily conference that all schools within the state of California will be closed for the rest of the academic year. The decision was announced with the best interest of students in mind, but the challenges and worries that come with campuses remaining shut down remain.

First declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in early March, the virus has impacted the United States in extremes. As of April 1st, 2020, the state of California has the third highest number of confirmed cases, according to the Guardian.

In the conference earlier today, Governor Newsom shared growing concerns about the virus within the state. “The number of people hospitalized in the state of California, the number 1855, represents roughly a tripling of where we were just 6 days ago.” Governor Newsom’s team of professional health advisors also gave new information on how the virus will grow within the state of California if the public does not continue social distancing. Newsom continued, “It gives you a sense of the nature of the spread and the nature of the attack of this virus and the nature of our focus as it relates to preparing for this surge.”

As the number of confirmed cases increases dramatically each day, officials have been able to estimate the impact the pandemic will have on the California population. Governor Newsom stated in the press conference that, “With this new modeling, with this dynamic nature of the models we have been for now many many weeks, it seems, I think, self-evident that we should not prepare to bring our children back into the school setting.” 

The Governor stressed that although campuses are closed, school remains in session, and addressed concerns in regard to distance learning and accessibility for everyone. With the new expectation of students being schooled at home, the state has already been preparing schools to fulfill their ‘obligations through distance learning.’ In the conference, Governor Newsom announced a partnership with Google, a platform that is offering its services to the state of California for a minimum of 3 months. In the Victor Valley Union High School District, chromebooks are being given to students who need access during the last few months of the year. Distance Learning Resources are accessible to staff, students and families during their time at home. 

Campuses are to remain closed, however, the goal for all districts is to continue on with education. “We are urging all of our superintendents in our schools to proceed as if we can only educate our kids through distance learning for the remainder of the school year,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond explains. He further stresses the importance of students and the challenge of dealing with education during this time. According to Thurmond, “We know that this is difficult, we know that is a challenge, but as it relates to the education of our kids, we have to rise to that challenge. So, while our campuses are closed to our kids, school is not out for the year.” 

While schools are already in the midst of the change, so are the students. Junior Jaimee Chan voiced her concern over the expected distance learning stating, “I honestly fear for my grades at the moment because they are not the best, and I’m just kind of scared that I won’t be able to bring them up. I’m really disappointed that I won’t be able to see my friends, it’s only been like 3 weeks of this and I’ve become tired of only being able to talk to people by texting or calling.”

Junior Jermaine Smith faces the reality of the closing of school for the rest of the year sharing, “No matter how terrible all this is though, I still know that this is the best thing that can be done for everyone, and it’s the right way to handle a pandemic, unlike what was done against the swine flu and many others.” The closing of the schools is a disappointment to many students, but the health and safety of every student and staff member is a serious issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

This change hits hard among the nearly seven million student population of California, it is nevertheless impactful for teachers and staff, as well. Mrs. Anna Lovato, 11th grade English teacher stated, “I am saddened by the news that school will be closed for the remainder of the school year. While I know that it is being done to keep our citizens safe and stop the spread of Coronavirus, I am nonetheless disappointed. Teaching and learning remotely is a new challenge for all of us, but I know that we are all going to do our best to support each other, and keep education a top priority. I am a very social person, so I miss interacting in my classroom with my students, but we have done a great job of keeping in touch. My top priority is always helping my students and making sure they are safe, happy, and healthy, and I will continue to do that, even from a distance.”

Everyone’s thoughts are on those whose final high school memories aren’t going to be spent in a classroom. Mrs. Lovato expressed her condolences, “My heart goes out to the Class of 2020, and I really hope there is a way we can celebrate and honor the hard work and dedication they put into their high school career in the near future.” 

In a statement by the Victor Valley Union High School District, new information repeating Governor Newman’s and Superintendent Tony Thurmond words, the district relates, “We understand that this closure presents an extreme challenge for our students, staff and families. However, the safety of our community is of the utmost importance, and this closure is a necessary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The UP Publications staff along with VVUHSD urges everyone to remember to take all necessary precautions to stay safe and healthy.