Santa Ana Unified School District Announces Online Only Learning for the Start of the School Year

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Wendy Rodriguez

The computer screen which shows the author's Google Classroom journalism page. Photo taken on July 14, 2020, at 4:23 p.m.

Wendy Rodriguez, New Editor-in-Chief

On Tuesday July 14, 2020, the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) announced that the 2020-2021 school year, which is set to start in August, would begin entirely online. 

The district’s school board along with SAUSD’s superintendent Jerry Almendarez, made the decision for schools to remain closed due to COVID-19 pandemic and the amount of cases rising throughout California, especially in Santa Ana. 

The SAUSD community was given recommendations from the Orange County Department of Education, as to when it is safe to open schools and the safety measures that come along with it. 

Almendarez, said, “during these challenging times, the safety of our school community continues to be our top priority. While we hope at some point to have our students attend our schools alongside their classmates and teachers, now is not the time.”

Almendarez and his team are working collaboratively to develop a distance learning plan in which students continue their education from home. 

Last week, the Orange County Board of Education voted 4-1 for a recommendation to reopen schools without requiring facial coverings or reduced class sizes. 

A Santa Ana High School student, whose name was not given, disagreed in an interview for ABC7 news.

The SAHS student stressed, “the students here are mad, students here are terrified, they are worried, stressed, scared…”

On Tuesday, July 7, 2020, the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education approved a 55 page comprehensive plan for the reopening of schools. The plan includes several models both in person and virtual learning. 

The board plans on resuming in person learning when it is safe to do so, but even then, SAUSD will take extreme measures to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and families. 

One of the models for reopening schools with students which shows the “red week” hybrid option. Screenshot taken from SAUSD’s comprehensive plan on July 15, 2020, at 5:13 p.m. (Courtesy of Santa Ana Unified School District)

Carolyn Torres, who is a seventh grade teacher in Anaheim and has spent 15 years in education, is the newest school board member for SAUSD. She started her position on the board six months ago.

Torres believes, “When it is safe enough, we will probably move to a hybrid model before a fully person model.” 

But Torres added, “I cannot speculate when it will be safe enough to return as even now the (coronavirus) numbers are going up when we are not even in school yet.”

When SAUSD is given the approval to transition into in-person learning, the comprehensive plan gives two options for high school students.

For both options, all students will be divided into four groups and will attend school once a week excluding Wednesdays set aside for teacher professional work days. In addition, teachers will have to do check-ins with their students and meet with them daily.

The first option states that students will go to all their classes, but each classroom will have 10-15 students per day. And, the second option allows more flexibility.  

For the second option, it is half a day where students attend periods one through three and then go home for periods four to six online. Each week, students will alternate between the first and last three classes. This is known as red and blue weeks. 

“I wish that the pandemic wasn’t that bad and the numbers weren’t as high, because then we could really benefit from having small classes,” said Torres.

According to the plan, high schoolers are required to have 240 minutes of instruction whether that be in person, virtual, or both. And, the decision comes from the administration and counselors who make the schedules, then the district approves it. 

Torres added that school lunches will be a grab and go system similar to when schools closed March 13 and a continuation from the distributions that are continuing this summer. 

The district will make a decision about the start date for the school year at the end of this month.

While California is trying to flatten the curve once again, please continue to do your part by wearing a mask when going out in public, wash your hands, and practice social distancing, so we can go back to school sooner than later.