PHOTO: Amidst the pandemic, the Davis Joint Unified School District is unsure of whether the next school year will start with in-person classes or distance learning. Either way, the first day of school will take place on August 26.
By Charissa Zeigler,
As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to climb, the impacts of the pandemic will likely affect how teachers and students interact next school year. Recently, governor Gavin Newsom suggested the 2020-2021 school year begin a month early, in July, a measure to counteract the impact of a ‘corona gap’ in students’ education. However, according to a May 8 update from Superintendent John Bowes, schools in the Davis Joint Unified School District will open on August 26.
“It is our goal to work toward a safe and secure opening of the school year and we are planning for several different possible first day of school scenarios,” Bowes said.
Whether schooling is in-person or virtual will depend on what the health situation is for the new school semester. Older teachers will need to consider their higher-risk status if exposed to the virus while teaching.
English teacher Richard Ferguson shared his plans for next semester. “I am 70 and have not the slightest concern about returning to in-person teaching. Other teachers may feel differently, given their own unique circumstances,” Ferguson said.
Counselors must grapple with the impact of social isolation and trauma in students adversely impacted by social distancing precautions. Many students will need additional academic help as a result of having less time to learn material at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Ferguson explains that trying to cover all the lost curriculum would “place too great a burden on students.” He plans to give students voluntary extra credit opportunities to help them bridge the “corona gap” in preparation for post-high school education.
Chemistry teacher David Van Muyden has been sharing online resources with his students during distance learning. However, distance learning has presented unique difficulties. “I also feel underutilized during office hours,” Van Muyden said.
Additionally, school administrators will have to determine how to structure school to prevent facilitating the spread of COVID-19.
Guidelines published by the Center for Disease Control warn against school assemblies and establish a 2 to 5 day school closure policy if there is a report of an infected person in the community. The CDC also advises schools to stop using perfect attendance awards to promote caution and to be vigilant in determining if students report flu-like symptoms that suggest the presence of the coronavirus.
School will need to be restructured, and online learning or a mix of online learning may be used. Sacramento City college is switching to full distance learning for the fall semester, and DHS may follow their example.
English teacher Anthony Vasquez believes there will be greater regulation of participation of distance learning continues. “I think ‘adequate participation’ […] will be better defined and more strictly enforced [in the Fall],” Vasquez said. Despite this, he believes teachers will be flexible given that many students are undergoing difficult circumstances.