Graphic by Lashall Richards
With the transition into online school, classes may range in their efficiency to educate. Some classes are adaptable or more easily suited to online school, while many others were structured around being in-person. Believing that online education is inadequate, Governor Gavin Newsom introduced the idea of the next school year starting early in July.
The decision to start the next school year early is one that would have to be made with local officials and labor unions. School districts and teachers unions must negotiate with the Governor to make a decision on this. The State Department of Education is unable to change a teacher’s contract without the union’s input. When Newsom introduced this idea on April 28th, it had been the first time school officials or staff had heard of it. “We are beginning to formalize our planning for the next school year,” said Superintendent John Nickerson. “As you no doubt are aware, it is an incredibly dynamic situation for schools as COVID-19 conditions and outlook seem to change almost daily; however, even with the uncertainty, we must begin a more formal planning process so we are best prepared for the multitude of scenarios that might present themselves. Student and staff safety will always be at the forefront of our planning, and we will continue to follow guidance from local and state health officials. We simply do not know at this point whether we will be engaging in school in our buildings with physical distancing parameters and safety precautions, introducing a more robust distance learning program, or doing a blend of the two. The District will work through the summer to ensure high quality educational opportunities and support services are available for our students at the start of the school year in whatever conditions exist at that time or throughout the year.” The current plan for school’s reopening is still August 11th, as normal.
As mentioned before, the decision on school’s reopening involves a number of groups, all having to follow the advice and guidelines of health officials. “Superintendent Nickerson meets with all the parent club representatives from the four high schools monthly…Two school board members also attend those meetings,” said Samantha Francois, President of the Las Lomas Parent Teacher Student Association, and a mother to a Las Lomas student. “The LLPTSA will support our parents, teachers, and students move forward with whatever decision the district determines.” Parents, teachers, and students are all able to join LLPTSA meetings every first Tuesday of the month to provide feedback on discussions such as these. “Las Lomas is a strong community and we need to continue to support each other through this crisis,” said Francois.
Many classes, especially math classes, can have important information lost over summer. And as mentioned before, the idea of school reopening early was brought up due to the worry that online school has not been able to adequately teach and prepare students for the next year. Newsom believes that starting the next school year early would allow for more time to review and to make up for the lost learning from this past quarter. Newsom said that as this idea is being considered, he will be listening to the guidance of scientists and health officials.
There are some health concerns many Californians have with school’s early restart. Though Newsom says that California is doing a good job at flattening the curve, many worry that July would be too early to return to classrooms full of dozens of people. That is partially why school is still planning on reopening on August 11th; There’s no reason to believe school can safely open significantly earlier than that.
Outside of the health concerns related to the virus, students have their worries about school reopening early. “Many students enjoy going to school, as do I. Most of them feel very cheated out of the rest of the school year, and are struggling with the untimely distant learning programs,” said sophomore Wolf Marsh. “Because of the stress this puts on students, it is my opinion that starting school in late July to make up for lost education is a poor decision that would lead to severe mental health problems in a significant number of students.”
This idea introduced by the Governor was not something school officials or staff were prepared for, and it must be handled with care. “Our school year was taken from us; don’t let our summer be taken too,” said Marsh.