On Tuesday July 28, 2020, the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) School Board and school leaders held a meeting with its focus on the reopening of schools.
According to the SAUSD Board of Education, the new school start date was changed to August 17. The original date was set for August 10, but the board decided to delay it.
Superintendent Jerry Almendarez said that the purpose for the delay was to get teachers and parents orientated for the new curriculum that the new school year brings.
“Because time is of essence and because things have been changing so quickly for the district over the past couple of weeks, one of the agreements that was reached during talks with the union was to delay the beginning of the school year for students by one week,” said Almendarez.
Senior Natalie Estrella Rivera agrees that it’s necessary to push back the start date because the district needs to ensure that multiple valuable resources are available to students as online school approaches.
Rivera is sad about starting the school year online because as a senior, she never imagined it being through a screen. However, she does understand it’s safer for everyone.
“I’m bummed that I’m never going to have my LAST first day of high school,” said Rivera.
Vice President of the SAUSD School Board, Valerie Amezcua, stressed that in reality, they aren’t ready and parents across the district aren’t prepared due to the fact that they’ve never been here before.
Amezcua said, “we are not ready to open on August 17, we are not ready with personal protective equipment, we are not ready with chromebooks, we are not ready with tablets, our parents haven’t been trained, there’s just all these things.”
When schools closed on March 13, 2020, there wasn’t enough preparation and tools for teachers, students, administrators, and parents; therefore, there was a lack of software or software not installed on students’ chromebooks and tablets.
In the past, there were some cases that students were unable to have sessions online due to technology issues. In situations like those, students became frustrated as they were not allowed to install software without the okay from the district.
And, with the school year approaching rapidly, the district is working to provide students with all necessary equipment such as computers, tablets, and hotspots as well as updated software that will be utilized during online learning.
At the meeting, SAUSD responded that they will spend $1.7 million dollars for hotspots over the next two years.
Hotspots are an important tool for online education because without it, students who don’t have access to the internet will have problems getting into their classes.
AVID and Human Anatomy teacher, Lisa Morgan, spent the first part of summer creating an online course for the incoming Distinguished Grizzly Class of 2024. Alongside her husband, Robert Morgan, they got to know their students while collaborating with them in a number of different activities.
Morgan understands why the SAUSD school board delayed the start of school; the number of new infections, especially in Santa Ana, is increasing.
As of August 3rd, 2020, there are 37,291 confirmed cases in Orange County. Santa Ana has the most totaling 7,119 and Anaheim is a close second with 6,389 cases.
For that reason, Morgan thinks that it is best to err on the side of caution. All she wants is for every member of the Godinez community to be safe, healthy and happy.
“I miss my AVID and DGA students so much. While the COVID-19 restrictions are no fun, I know we can work together to form new memories and grow as people. We will come out of this stronger,” added Morgan.
For junior, Lucia Ramirez, this wasn’t what she expected. Ramirez usually spends quality time with her family and friends away from home, but this year the coronavirus got in the way, and it wasn’t worth the risk.
Ramirez spent half of her summer in summer school fulfilling her Spanish class A-G requirements. She said it was a good thing because it distracted her from everything going on in the world.
Ramirez believes that many students like herself can use this extra week to be more productive because during quarantine, the excitement hasn’t felt real to start school compared to other years.
As for the new start date, “I am excited knowing that the school year has been pushed back because it gives me and many families more time to prepare for what is to come,” said Ramirez.
With the school year just around the corner and online learning the only option for now, the district hopes that families, students, and teachers will be ready for a new, but temporary new type of learning.
As always, please continue to wear your mask, practice social distancing when out in public, and do your part for the community to get SAUSD students back in school.