After the bell rang on Friday, March 13, releasing students from their fourth period class, students chattered and ran up to each other in the hallways more than usual. The cause: an announcement made by principal Maria Jackson during fourth period, stating that school would be closed until April 3.
This announcement was made after the Santa Clara County Public Health department directed all public schools to close for three weeks starting Monday, March 16, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which the World Health Organization has classified as a pandemic. March 13 also marked several other key COVID-19 updates across the nation, with President Donald Trump declaring the outbreak a national emergency, allocating $50 billion in federal resources to fight the disease, and California Governor Gavin Newsom filing an executive order to give funds to closed schools for remote learning. Other school districts in California have also closed until April, including the state’s four largest school districts: Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified, Fresno Unified and Long Beach Unified.
Lynbrook’s decision came after much discussion over the positives and negatives of closing schools. For example, administration was concerned about providing food for students who relied on free or reduced-price school lunches. Public health officials also did not initially see concrete evidence that a school closure would slow the spread of COVID-19, since young people rarely experience severe symptoms.
However, there were still concerns that while students may not be directly harmed by the coronavirus, students could be asymptomatic carriers. While a student who has contracted the virus may display no symptoms, they may bring it home to their family members, who can be more susceptible to the virus due to factors such as older age and weaker lungs and resultantly may have difficulty handling the impact of COVID-19.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in the world,” Jackson said in her email notice on March 13. “It is very important that we all restrict our movements and human contacts. Young people can be infected with the virus and not show symptoms. This is extremely dangerous to others.”
The district had held several meetings discussing COVID-19’s impact on schools before the March 13 announcement, in which they answered questions posed by students, PTSA members and Grad Night committee members.
“At the meeting [on] Thursday, March 12, it was the district’s position that schools should not shut down,” said ASB president Stephen Yang. “Because that was the last time I had talked to the district officials about this matter, I expected that schools would not be cancelled any time soon. However, the district takes orders from the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health. Because the data is constantly getting updated, I am not overly surprised that their decisions have changed.”
While students may be excited that school will be closed, they should avoid going out to large gatherings, which would be contradictory to the motive of the school closure. In addition, students will continue learning through online platforms such as School Loop, Schoology and Google Classroom.
“We may not be functioning in the traditional setting, but students are expected to keep up with their studies and teachers will be working,” Jackson said in her email. “This is not a three-week vacation.”
For some, the next three weeks may not be all that relaxing. Some have raised concerns about the potential lack of student motivation, procrastination on assignments and the difficulty of administering tests.
“This closure will make me more bored at home but also more stressed,” said freshman Thomas Zheng. “I tend to think negatively about myself especially when it comes to school. I hope that I am not slacking off on assignments because we do get more time to relax. I also hope that [I won’t] procrastinate.”
While students stay at home, teachers will continue to attend school unless otherwise directed. On Tuesday, March 17, teachers will be discussing plans for distance-learning instruction through the online platforms.
In addition, ASB has created an anonymous form through which students can ask Assistant Principal of Activities Brooke Chan questions regarding plans related to the coronavirus at Lynbrook. ASB expects to be able to release a document with all her responses to the questions by March 20.
In the meantime, students will also be coping with the cancellation of many beloved events, such as Junior Prom, sports meets and extracurricular conferences.
“The Class [of 2023] has continuously received news of various cancelations that affect almost all groups on campus, whether they be musicians or athletes or a student looking forward to Powerpuff and I’m sure the news must’ve been saddening or disappointing,” said Class of 2023 president Emma Tu. “But I’m proud that our class is taking it so well. Our class will most probably remember this period of time, but I’m confident they won’t let it affect their future success.”
The music department has been especially impacted, as several of their performances, including the California Music Educators Association Festival which is often a benchmark assessment that evaluates and validates the hard work of music ensembles during the school year.
“For musicians, performance is the culmination of our work – we share the fruits of our labor with others,” band and orchestra director Michael Pakaluk said. “It was certainly a letdown to not be able to perform. Now that basically everything is cancelled, I’m recovering and looking forward to the future. Concerts will resume, life will go on. Right now we are just in a periodic hiatus, and my hope is that it help us appreciate and value the opportunities we have together and when life returns to normal, not take those moments for granted.”
Through the mixed emotions toward the ongoing situation, Jackson hopes that everyone will take care of themselves and support each other through this time.
“I have deep love and respect for you all,” Jackson shared on the Lynbrook Facebook page. “From among you will come problem-solvers, dreamers, compassionate leaders, and humble world-changers. I am thankful that you are the future, and it will be bright. In the meantime … wash your hands ….. and check your school email.”
Edit: As of March 25, the school closure has been extended to May 1. Additional quotes from interviewees have also been added.
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