A New Year Brings Along a New Variant and Disorder to Schools

The+journalism+class+at+Godinez+Fundamental+High+School+%28GFHS%29+poses+for+a+picture+on+Friday%2C+January+7th%2C+2022+as+many+desks+around+them+are+empty+due+to+the+recent+spike+of+COVID-19.

Wendy Rodriguez

The journalism class at Godinez Fundamental High School (GFHS) poses for a picture on Friday, January 7th, 2022 as many desks around them are empty due to the recent spike of COVID-19.

Wendy Rodriguez, Editor-in-Chief

On any given day at Godinez Fundamental High School (GFHS), you can expect a few teachers calling out sick. But since schools have started the new semester after winter break, there has been an average of 11-15 teachers and staff out daily.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first confirmed U.S. case of Omicron was detected on Dec. 1st, 2021. Since then, it has affected the vaccinated and unvaccinated, leaving many teachers and students quarantining at home. 

Office manager, Olivia Arredondo, said that on the first day school resumed from winter break, she had 20 teachers out and 11 of those had no substitute teachers.

Teachers at GFHS are sacrificing their prep periods to help cover the lack of subs in the district.

Social science teacher, Megan Blash, is one of those who have had to sub almost every day. She has been subbing for English teacher, Monique Statler, who was out due to exposure of the Omicron virus in her family. 

Covering the same class provides the students and me some consistency.  I am already getting to know the names of the students in the class that I’ve covered, which means I can actually help to make sure learning is still happening,” said Blash.

In Blash’s classroom, she has about three to eight students out per class, every day.

To ease the stress of teachers covering classes, principal Jesse Church hired two long term substitute teachers from the district that are working at GFHS full time everyday.

“This is the first time that we are experiencing COVID-19 and it is a challenge, but it is doable because of the awesome staff that Godinez has,” said Arredondo. 

Blash added, “The students don’t see it but every morning before school there is a huddle in the front office making sure that every class gets covered.”

In order to make sure all classes are covered, Church has asked counselors to help.

Sometimes, we have to look at what we have and not what we don’t have.”

— Lillian Moreno

Counselors, Elizabeth Castro and Lillian Moreno are two of those leaving their offices to help cover classes. 

Castro has subbed twice this year. She feels like it is “necessary to help out given the circumstances.”

“We are going through a very difficult time and I want to be able to support students in any way that I can,” said Castro. 

Likewise, Moreno has subbed for multiple classes this year. 

“I am a firm believer of being a team player and though we all have our roles, it’s important that we maintain those roles to help a school function. In a crisis situation, we should all help each other. This is my way of helping out,” said Moreno. 

On Thursday Jan. 13th, 2021, Moreno along with other counselors took 100-150 seniors to visit Santa Ana College.

Moreno was shocked to find out that 80% of their classes remained online.

“It made me realize what a blessing that is for us because we’ve actually been able to stay open and that is such a big step compared to where we were two years ago,” added Moreno. 

Other public institutions like the University of California (UC’s) and California State Universities (CSU’s) campuses started 2022 online because of the risk to the health of students and staff. 

“You can’t have the best of the entire world. We are doing really well despite being in the middle of a pandemic. Sometimes, we have to look at what we have and not what we don’t have. We are still open,” concluded Moreno. 

Even when teachers aren’t present in the classroom, students continue to adjust to an ever changing school day.

Junior Priscilla Mendoza worries about going back to online instruction. 

Above is the schedule that office manager, Olivia Arredondo, created on January 14th, 2021. On this particular day, she had seven teachers out, so teachers who checked in that morning in the main office were asked to help cover classes with this sign-in sheet. (Wendy Rodriguez)

“Working with teachers in person makes me understand the lessons better. I worry if we do go back online, my grades will go downhill,” said Mendoza. 

Mendoza had her math teacher out due to COVID-19. She worried about her math quiz. Without her teacher there to review at the beginning of class, she got a D on her quiz. 

Senior Jasmine Delgado said she wants to continue in-person learning despite rising COVID-19 cases.

“Already having missed the social aspect of school my junior year, I am afraid of missing out on my senior high school experiences and activities,” said Delgado.
The lack of teachers does concern her because Delgado finds it difficult to complete her work without teacher instruction.

“I’m working with classmates for motivation and setting completion goals for myself,” added Delgado.

English teacher Lori Polydoros knows that many students have been out due to quarantine, including herself for five days because she tested positive for COVID-19, so she has tried to accommodate her assignments into a digital format. But, she stresses that it is difficult and really tough to meet all of their needs.

“The absolute hardest thing about not being in class is continuing to connect with my students and further develop our relationships together,” said Polydoros. 

“Being able to just say hello, ask how they’re doing and give them a smile or laugh together in class means everything. It’s hard to give them your heart behind a screen or through email,” Polydoros added.

As the nation’s schools, including the Santa Ana Unified School District, soldier on, President Joe Biden confirmed in a press conference on Jan. 19 that “[they’ve] been doing everything [they] can, learning and adapting as fast as [they] can, and preparing for a future beyond the pandemic.”

“We have the tools–vaccines, boosters, masks, tests, pills–to save lives and keep businesses and schools open,” said Biden.