FUHSD combats novel Coronavirus

Social+studies+teacher+Jeffrey+Bale+poses+with+bottles+of+disinfectant.

Kaylin Li

Social studies teacher Jeffrey Bale poses with bottles of disinfectant.

Aileen Xue

After announcing on March 13 that schools would be closed until April 3 in light of COVID-19 pandemic, otherwise referred to as the novel coronavirus, FUHSD has since implemented numerous measures to support its students, including a remote learning system set to begin on March 23 and a food distribution program to provide free meals. 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has been associated with a seafood and wildlife meat market in Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak. California Governor Gavin Newsom has estimated that 56% of California’s population will be infected by the virus over the next eight weeks if precautions to limit spread are not taken and has since issued a state-wide shelter-in-place order, directing everyone to stay inside their homes and only allowing for essential business, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and banks, to stay open. 

As of March 24, there have been 375 reported cases of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County, including reported cases at nearby Stanford University and the Palo Alto area. Fortunately, no FUHSD student or staff member has tested positive thus far.

All schools across Santa Clara County were closed to students effective March 16. Since then, FUHSD leadership has continued to meet multiple times a day and listened to all the briefings provided by Santa Clara County Public Health, the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the California Department of Education. 

In addition, FUHSD Teaching and Learning staff, which includes the Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Coordinator of Curriculum and Assessment and Coordinator of Educational Technology, have collaborated to create the remote learning plan and class schedule, releasing both to students on March 17. 

All classes will meet online once a week during their designated time period for class check-ins, where attendance will be taken through mediums determined by each teacher. Students will be able to review content and assignments with their teacher, have small group discussions and interact with their classmates. Each day also has an hour allotted to office hours, where all teachers will be online and available for students to get help or ask questions. 

“Our primary concern is to make sure that we provide the best possible learning experience for students during the closure, but we know that this will look differently than regular classroom instruction,” said FUHSD Coordinator of Communications Rachel Zlotziver. “Our systems will have to adapt and be more flexible as we roll out the remote learning plan, but our goal is to minimize the disruption to our students and provide some structure and stability during this difficult time.”

To prepare teachers for the transition to remote learning, FUHSD principals have been holding Zoom meetings with their staff. The District’s Coordinator of Educational Technology and the Library Media Teachers at each school have also provided additional training and video tutorials to introduce staff to remote learning tools that they may be unfamiliar with, such as Schoology Conference and Google Meet. 

Many teachers have adjusted curriculum and lessons so that they can work for a remote classroom setting. They have also reached out to their students to check in and provided new syllabi detailing how they plan to conduct their classes, assignments and communications. 

“We will strive to provide our students with meaningful work, in realistic measure, with merciful expectations,” said principal Maria Jackson during her video message published on March 19. “We want our students to keep learning, but we don’t want them to be overwhelmed. Our teachers are working together in course-alike teams to make sure that they’re providing consistent workloads and consistent expectations.” 

While most staff members are now working remotely to practice social distancing, some employees have been designated as essential and will be working on site for at least some period of time in order to make sure that essential functions continue, including the cleaning of school sites, technology support, payroll and communications.

Along with implementing distance learning, FUHSD is also committed to provide nutritious meals to all students during the school week, offering grab and go meals at no cost to all students and children, regardless of where they attend school, at all five high school locations and a satellite location at Fair Oaks Park. Meals are available Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., despite the shelter-in-place.

“We have received an incredibly positive response from the community regarding this program,” Zlotziver said. “Many community members have thanked us for continuing these services and asked how they can volunteer to help or contribute in other ways.” 

Both breakfast and lunch is provided — a typical breakfast meal consists of cereal or a bagel, fruit and milk, while a typical lunch meal could be a sandwich, fruit and vegetable. Meals are prepared and distributed by Food Service Managers and food service staff, and during the first week of the program, which started on March 17, the District handed out 5968 meals, serving more than 700 individuals per day. 

ASB has also played its part in boosting student morale, creating virtual challenges for  students to participate. For their first challenge, ASB encouraged students to take their best self timer picture and post it to their Instagram story, tagging @lynbrookasb with the hashtag #stayathome; they received more than 150 submissions. They are also planning to feature clubs on their Instagram in an effort to give clubs an opportunity to remain engaged with Lynbrook students. While Lynbrook administration has not specifically asked ASB Officers for their opinions regarding school closure, they continue to update them on important matters. 

“I am in contact with the district administration weekly,” said ASB President Stephen Yang. “I wish for students to understand that the district is doing its best in weighing out all matters regarding student life and education. Please sympathize with them in these bizarre times.” 

As guidance from the local Public Health Department, the CDC and the State of California continues to rapidly evolve, FUHSD is committed to ensuring students’ safety and providing them with the best possible learning experience. 

“The Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the CDC have many great resources for community members,” Zlotziver said. “There is also information on our School Closure Resources webpage regarding unemployment benefits for families that may be economically impacted by the shelter in place order and school closures. We will continue to update this webpage regularly.”