Campus closure extended; district switches to distance learning

Rio and other San Juan schools will be closed at least until May 1, but the district will begin online instruction on April 13

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Nicolas Gorman

Rio Americano staff sanitize and distribute computers to prepare for newly rolled out “distance learning.”

By Emily Borg, Annalee Gorman, and Allison Meirer

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, San Juan Unified Schools District has extended campus closures at least through May 1 and will begin online instruction on April 13.

The district has been working to adopt a new style of instruction, called “Distance Learning,” that will allow students to learn at home at meet virtually with teacher via the internet.

“To help students stay connected to their classmates and teachers, we are encouraging each student to have access to a computer with internet access,” Principal Brian Ginter wrote in statement. “This will allow students to log in to student email, Google Classroom and receive teacher instruction and assignments.”

Some students are disappointed that they are unable to return to campus.

“Sadly, I think [online learning] is very necessary but I wish it wasn’t,” said senior Samantha Klein. “I wish we could still finish out our school year.”

San Juan schools will begin distance learning on April 13. High school campuses began checking out Chromebooks on March 25 to those unable to access technology. Rio will pass out laptops in the library on April 1.

Lessons and material for all classes will have to be completed virtually to continue the students’ education. The teachers may decide how to distribute the materials through ZOOM, Google Classroom, APEX, etc.

However, switching to online learning poses many concerns and adjustments for some students and some are still unsure about them.

“Online learning is definitely necessary,” said junior Jalen Naran. “I’m just concerned about how teachers are going to plan out their times so that there’s no conflict with other classes.”

The new teaching model is a way for teachers to communicate with their students. Schools hope to provide a learning environment with little distractions and discipline to keep students on task.

“It’s hard to stay motivated with online learning with all the distractions at home and with not being in a traditional classroom environment,”  said senior Maddy Burns.

Although for some students, online enrichment provides some freedom to complete their assignments.

“Personally, I don’t mind online learning because I like being able to work at my own pace, but sometimes it is difficult because there are more distractions around,”  said senior Adeline Huddy.

If the schools were to be closed throughout the summer, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on March 13 stating that if schools close, the districts can use state money to fund distance learning and help in any way to further a student’s education.

School staff sanitize computers before they are loaned to students.

There will be no changes in the curriculum, but only in how it is delivered.

Online schooling presents some issues for teachers and students. At this point in the semester, students are still expected to take their finals as planned and attend summer school online. However, teachers are worried that the test security will be compromised.

“I think finals will be harder because we’re not physically in class reviewing,” said senior Alyssa Escay. “It’s hard to have to transition from not really learning to having to test.”

Completing the school year online also poses social concerns. Although graduation has not been canceled, the school district is discussing alternatives to a ceremony.

“I’m not sure what the ceremony might look like yet if the actual one can’t happen,” said Principal Brian Ginter. “We are still putting awards together and going to have the [awards ceremony] or figure something else out.”

For seniors, returning to school and having a graduation ceremony could be their last chance to say goodbye to their peers.

“I worked really hard over the past four years for graduation,” said senior Marian Tully. “I want my family to see me graduate.”

Distance learning is the new reality for students to continue to grow in their knowledge.

This story was originally published on The Mirada on April 1, 2020.