Teachers and Students Shift to Distance Learning Curriculum

From left to right clockwise, English teachers Tessa Heaney, Joyce Feuerborn, Jeanne Rodebaugh and Regina Parga, discuss online English strategies during their first 9 a.m. meeting on video chat program, Zoom.

Joyce Feuerborn

From left to right clockwise, English teachers Tessa Heaney, Joyce Feuerborn, Jeanne Rodebaugh and Regina Parga, discuss online English strategies during their first 9 a.m. meeting on video chat program, Zoom.


On Friday, March 13, 2020, Godinez Fundamental High School closed its campus and students are not expected to return until further notice.

Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed in a statement that “California schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year.”

Once the spread of COVID-19 also known as the coronavirus was discovered, countries throughout the world began to take action in order to prevent its spread. Nearly all schools across the United States, including GFHS, are closed, and online schooling is now a major role in students’ lives as they continue their education from home.

We interviewed students, staff members, and the Wellness Center director to learn how they are managing this drastic change to online learning.

Here are their stories.

Courtesy of America Bernabe
After finishing her chores, freshman America Bernabe works on her Geometry homework at her desk in her room. Picture taken March 24, 2020, at 7:25 p.m.

A Stressful Experience due to Distractions

Freshman America Bernabe has mixed emotions when it comes to online learning. As much as she enjoys learning at her own pace, she learns better with the help of others.

“I am hurt as a student especially in my geometry class because that is my weakest subject,” said Bernabe. She’s also worried about her AP human geography class because the material for a freshman taking her first AP is tough for her to understand.

The worst thing is the constant noise her family makes. This distracts Bernabe from focusing on her studies.

With the change to online learning, Bernabe is now responsible to help her six-year old sister with her homework, in addition to chores that include: washing dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, gardening, and cooking for the family. The added responsibilities affect her because she starts homework at 6 p.m. and depending on her homework, she ends late at 10:30 p.m.

Bernabe easily gets overwhelmed but she’s come up with a few ways to help with the added stress.

She listens to music, watches television and has video chats with her friends to destress. In addition, Bernabe’s friends help her understand the homework by breaking down the problems into steps.

Bernabe added, “Remember to stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands. Do your part to not spread the virus more.”

Courtesy of Tessa Heaney
English teacher Tessa Heaney holds up her message of encouragement for students that was added to a video Grizzly News Network produced.

Teacher’s Perspective Changes about Online Learning

English Teacher Tessa Heaney, knows this was something unexpected, but believes that her students are fortunate enough that they’re familiar with online platforms such as: Google Classroom, Google Meet, and Zoom.

Heaney’s coped with the new changes, but “it’s been a bit overwhelming,” said Heaney.

“I don’t think it’s anything we can fix because nationwide, all schools are behind.  However, I do miss the social interaction with my students, so I hope Zoom and Meet with help fill that void,” added Heaney.

She knows that it is challenging for students who don’t have the resources at home such as a quiet area to study or internet access.

On the last day her students were on campus, Heaney’s first move was to let her AP classes know that she was going to post an announcement each day at 10 a.m., on Google Classroom.

Heaney said that she started looking through her plans and tried to figure out something reasonable for her students to do at home during the school closure.

“Although life comes first, globally and historically the value of an education is a close second,” said Heaney.

In other words, she encourages students to do the work, however, if for any reason, students cannot complete the work, it will not be held against them. It is just an opportunity for them to continue to study and raise their grade at home.

Heaney wants her students to do some self-care activities during this difficult time which include: meditation, taking breaks, yoga, reading, learning a new skill, and to be kind to one another including yourself.

Heaney continues to cope with this new change, but in the meantime, she meets weekly to check in with her English classes on Zoom.

Samantha Alarcón
Jasmin Gutiérrez smiles as she prepares to enter the ThunderDome for the March of the Flags at Orange County Leadership Camp during the summer at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Stressed Over Advanced Placement Classes and College

Senior and ASB President, Jasmin Gutiérrez, admits that at the beginning of the quarantine, it was difficult for her to adjust to a new schedule and remain focused because she was not in a traditional classroom setting.

Gutiérrez currently takes five advanced placement courses that include: AP Calculus, AP Physics 1, AP Literature, AP Macroeconomics, and AP Government and Politics.

She knows her responsibilities when it comes to handling five AP courses but is worried about AP exams.

College Board, who administers both the AP and SAT tests, decided that AP exams for the 2019-2020 school year will be taken online or handwritten by submitting a photo. Students will choose their own testing window and exams will be 45 minutes long, open book and notes, with only free response questions.

In order to help her cope with this new experience, Gutiérrez tries to choose one subject a day to work on, allowing her to keep busy and continue with her studies.

It is challenging to manage school work at home, so for that reason, she only does her school work at night.

“I am definitely less stressed now than I was before because at school, I constantly had to worry about my classes and extracurriculars, so when that (her extracurriculars including being on the Associated Student Body) was taken away, I could focus on myself and my family,” said Gutiérrez.

However, it is still hard to complete her work because she doesn’t have that one on one connection with her teachers.

As a senior, it’s heartbreaking because she’s not able to spend the last few months of high school with her friends nor teachers that she values and appreciates.

“I miss having my counselors and teachers for support, especially now that I am deciding my admission to universities. Not being able to personally share with them my successes is devastating,” Gutiérrez said.

“Worst of all, being deprived of my senior activities is still difficult to accept,” added Gutiérrez.

Despite these unprecedented circumstances, Gutiérrez knows that life will eventually go back to normal, so even though it seems like we are in a very, very dark place right now, she has hopes it will get better.

Courtesy of Eliana Vallejo
Spanish teacher Eliana Vallejo holds up a sign that she made to send encouragement to her students.

A Positive Mindset is Key for Spanish Teacher

Spanish teacher Eliana Vallejo, believes that the hardest challenge for her is managing her schedule. During the quarantine, Vallejo is at home with her baby while still trying to teach to over 150 students.

Vallejo said she was already using a lot of online tools and sites, so it wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be.

“I have altered my lessons and assignments to something much easier and less stressful for all of us. Hopefully, I can manage a better schedule for grading,” said Vallejo.

Similar to Heaney’s policy, Vallejo expects her students to at least attempt the work. If they don’t finish it or get 100%, it’s not a big deal. She just wants her students to see the material they would have learned in school.

Vallejo said that online learning could negatively impact her students because students depend on teachers to be there for them and ask for help in the moment.

She continued, “Now that students are home, and with all the craziness going on in our world, school work seems much more stressful and impossible to do.”

“Everything must come to an end and when it does, we’ll all be a lot stronger than before. Let’s stay positive and keep our heads up,” added Vallejo.

Courtesy of Jessica Martinez
Sophomore Jessica Martinez sits in bed, in front of her Chromebook to complete her English homework. Photo taken on April 6, 2020 at 11:31 a.m.

Being Flexible is Key for Sophomore

Sophomore Jessica Martinez enjoys the change to distance learning because she is able to work at her own pace to complete assignments.

“I’m a fast learner so it has been easy for me and I don’t get bored as much as I do in school,” said Martinez.

Martinez believes that this will help her become more confident within herself because she will not be judged by her answers if they’re wrong. Instead her teachers let her know her mistakes without the entire class hearing.

Martinez lives in a family of five and admits that sometimes she has to stop working on her homework to help her parents and siblings, but it’s worth it because it refreshes her memory and helps her get back on track in her homework.

“Once I isolate myself from other people, it becomes easy to learn alone. I miss seeing my friends at school, but I rather see them outside of school and be at home more,” said Martinez.

Vania Vazquez
Julie Phan works on her lab report in her AP Biology class earlier this year.

Ease of Online Learning Comes with New Worries

Junior Julie Phan, does not like online learning. She misses actual face to face interactions between her teachers and peers. She feels it’s a crucial part of her learning, and finds herself easily distracted by her phone at home.

However, she enjoys having a lenient schedule and the accessibility of just simply opening up her computer for online meetings.

Phan usually wakes up at noon but on the days she has a meeting, she wakes up earlier at 9:30 a.m. She then proceeds to make breakfast and most days she doesn’t log into her computer until evening. Although Phan does not have a lot of home responsibilities, sometimes she helps her mom cook or clean the house.

As a junior, many events have been cancelled and testing has been postponed.

Phan said, “I am worried about Advanced Placement testing because I have been working hard all year and it was announced that all questions will be free responses.” Phan has been in contact with her teachers, “to alleviate the stress.”

Phan fears that this will negatively impact her as a student because she hoped to learn more in her AP Psychology and AP Biology class.

College Board decided, due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, to cancel the May 2, 2020, SAT administration along with the makeup exams for the March 14 administration. All students will receive refunds and update students on future testing opportunities.

“I was relieved about the SATs not being required as a part of the UC college admission process but then I realized how important it was and started to worry about the increase in competition because now they will focus more on my extracurriculars and essays,” Phan said.

Phan concluded that it is very unfortunate that many events are getting cancelled, but ASB is trying to make the best out of this situation by creating virtual spirit weeks including a virtual Sadies Hawkins dance through Zoom.

Wendy Rodriguez
A screen of the official Instagram page for the Wellness Center at Godinez Fundamental High School. Picture taken on April 6, 2020 at 12:21 p.m.

There is Help from the Wellness Center

Claudia Tapia, the Wellness Center’s director and the Family and Community Engagement Liaison supports students, families and the community by connecting them to resources.

During this difficult time, Tapia has provided families, teachers, and students with resources for food, shelter, diapers, financial assistance, referrals to agencies helping with filing unemployment, and mental health resources.

“At school it’s natural for students to talk to me about what’s going on with their lives, but now that I am home, I’ve had to reach out to them more. Just because we aren’t at school doesn’t mean I am not here,” said Tapia.

Tapia shared that Santa Ana Unified School District is providing meals for students three days a week at 13 different schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Mondays, and Wednesdays, students or their parents are able to pick up two days worth of lunch and breakfast, while on Fridays, they can pick up one meal. In addition, SAUSD provides students with Educational Enrichment packets for all grade levels at meal sites.

Tapia stressed that she is, “here and available for students, teachers, families and community members during this hard time. Even when they feel alone, we are all in this together and this will soon pass and we will be stronger than ever because of this historic experience.”

Tapia created an Instagram and has been working to push information out to those in need. She hopes to continue using it when school resumes, but for the meantime, she encourages students and families to stay connected.

On March 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill in hopes that the economy in peril over the coronavirus will be saved.

As for when school resumes, that’s the million, no trillion dollar question.

Stay safe and stay home.

This story was originally published on Grizzly Gazette on April 6, 2020.