California Schools Close Due to COVID-19
AISHANI SELLATHURAI , SOPHIA HUA Editors in Chief
All schools in the Alhambra Unified School District have switched to distance learning for the rest of the school year due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, this is an action recommended by Governor Gavin Newsom and California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.
The announcement of physical school closure came on Friday, March 13, after sports games and most extracurricular events were cancelled earlier in the week. The March and May SAT were canceled shortly after.
Students and staff were given one week to prepare the switch to an online learning model. Distance learning began on Monday, March 23.
“Online school is frankly more stressful and tedious compared to school in person,” junior Chi Luc said. “Teachers give out more work and students don’t have that arranged schedule to help them so they tend to procrastinate more and lose their motivation.”
Health and government officials recommend that people practice social distancing in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing face masks in public and staying six feet away from others.
In light of the developing situation, the College Board has announced that all Advanced Placement (AP) exams will be taken online. They will consist of a 45 minute free response section and can be completed on any electronic device.
“I appreciate that College Board made their decisions based on student feedback,” AP U.S. History teacher Jessica Hersh said. “Students will have the opportunity to show what they’ve been working hard toward all year. Or, if their current situation is too stressful, they can opt out of taking the test without facing negative consequences. The College Board is also providing free hotspots to help those without home access to the internet.”
According to Trevor Packer, the senior vice president for the AP program, the exams will be open-book. The College Board has provided free online resources on their website in order to help students prepare for the exams. The AP exams will concentrate on the analysis aspect of the exam rather than checking for definitions.
“I feel nervous and scared [about] AP testing being online,” junior Evelyne Gong said. “Since this is new to all of us, it will definitely be a learning experience, but hopefully nothing goes wrong.”
Students who need a laptop to use during distance learning can fill out a form from the district here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdlFUp-TqRdibzB-oY7cB1D_5r-JQGzahe0ir_0_MAaPIH09A/viewform.
Free school breakfast and lunches are also available for those under 18. Food can be picked up on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Granada Elementary, Marguerita Elementary, Ynez Elementary and the District Office at 1515 West Mission. Parents can drive up to the school to pick up two breakfasts and two lunches per child on Mondays and three breakfasts and three lunches on Wednesdays.
For the seniors, college advisors Alex Luong and Guadalupe Martinez have opened up a Google Classroom to provide more assistance. Although college campuses have also switched to distance learning, many still offer virtual tours and other helpful information for seniors. To join the Google Classroom, email either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also on Instagram @collegeadvisers_ahs.
Large gatherings, such as prom and Grad Bash have been cancelled. Refund checks will be mailed home to any students who may have already purchased tickets to these events. A traditional graduation ceremony will not be possible, but according to an April 17 letter from Principal Marisa Palacios, administrators are in the process of exploring an alternative graduation format.
“Senior year is basically over and it’s such a bittersweet moment,” senior Nick Andrian said. “All the typical senior year activities are over, and there is no making it up. I hope the district will come up with a plan to help students deal with the situation going on. Google Classroom simply can’t make up the normative educational experiences.”
Students are encouraged to stay in contact by checking Google Classroom, the school website, and the district website for updates and by keeping in contact with peers and teachers.