By Brooke Killgore
Graphic By Jane Wilson
The Acalanes Union High School District student forum met on February 23, 2021 at Miramonte High School in Orinda to discuss the outlooks of the upcoming hybrid schedule, projected to begin around March 17. Led by Preston Nibley from Miramonte, representatives from each school within the district came together to express their opinions on future board items and agendas. Las Lomas student representative, senior Campbell Zeigler, talked about the impacts of being a part of the team: “It’s really important that the district hears from each school and understands the unique point of view that each school has… I’m almost [one hundred percent] sure we’re going to move into hybrid… obviously I’m a little worried about the risks involved, but I’m confident that the district and Las Lomas are doing everything they can to make it safe. With cases going down and vaccinations going up, I think it will only get [better] over time.”
The meeting began with introductions and reports from the individual schools discussing where they were in regards to preparing for Hybrid. It continued with a look over for Acalanes Union High School District’s Transition to In-Person Learning, which gave a clearer idea of how sanitation, classrooms and safety will be handled throughout the arrival of students. The process listed a detailed description of screenings students and faculty members will do on a daily to weekly basis, including a self-screening and informative survey regarding how the person is feeling that day and if they are dealing with any COVID-19 related symptoms. There were major concerns after the reviewing,shared by many including representatives such as both of Campolindo’s student members, sophomore Maggie Doolittle and senior Maggie Buckley. The two shared similar concerns over the honesty that would be given by students taking the forms and the idea that some could lie just to get back into school and their extracurricular activities. To meet the uncertainty, Las Lomas junior Ben Shafton, who was watching the forum through Zoom, suggested that the district should perhaps implement a point system which would include questions such as: distance traveled over a period of time, people you’ve seen, etc. The junior also spoke of students and staff who have passed the questionnaire could receive a QR code to allow them access into school, should they be scanned. The group came to a decision made by junior Las Lomas student representative Melina Rafferty, whose girl’s lacrosse team used an app, Company Nurse to gain access to their practices, should they answer the right questions to prove they aren’t sick with COVID-19.
The forum moved on to more hybrid-based questions, some regarding how teachers will perform and devise lesson plans and punishments following lying or deceitful behaviour on the surveys and an anonymous reporting system. Zeigler spoke on the proposed system, saying, “It’s a smart system, we all know who’s hanging out with [large amounts of people] so [witnesses] would be easily able to report those who are being unsafe.” A relative of the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System used to alert police and school officials to dangerous activities on campus, this new process would allow students who have noticed either a single person or a group not social distancing or being unsafe and allowing them to report these individuals to the district. But Miramonte junior Isabelle Bennette disagreed and voiced her concerns regarding the projected system: “It won’t be effective, the Say Something Reporting System isn’t already being used that much because [students] don’t want to rat out their friends. It is possible that the anonymous component will make them use it more often.” The forum spent time discussing an alternative approach to the reporting and came down to adding another question to the survey students will fill out daily, “Do you know someone who isn’t following guidelines/social distancing protocols?”
The final issue listed on the agenda was concerns over students getting COVID-19 tests. A major flaw that seemed to be prominent in the discussion was how to get students to partake in getting tested to ensure the safety of their peers and the community around them. Nibley suggested upholding a giveaway for each school, where if students came out to participate in the display of testing, they would be entered into a chance to receive a gift card or possibly extra credit for a class of a willing teacher. With a slight concern over holding teachers accountable to give out extra credit, the student board eventually narrowed it down to holding gift cards in a raffle students could win. The meeting then concluded after a summary of the night’s agendas and any last questions regarding the decisions of the night.