School Closure and Distance Learning

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Mr. Barham gives his fifth period science class a lecture about the novel Corona Virus in place of the initial class plan, which was for students to continue working on their bridge projects. Students were originally given until the following Monday to complete their constructions, however because of the school closure, most students opted to take their projects home to finish and bring in when school resumes. Kailey Kleiner says, “I guess it kind of worked out. My group was on track, but the extra time will be nice because we can make our bridge even better.”

Emma Marcellana, Reporter, Editor-in-Chief

Mr. Barham gives his fifth period science class a lecture about the novel Corona Virus in place of the initial class plan, which was for students to continue working on their bridge projects. Students were originally given until the following Monday to complete their constructions, however because of the school closure, most students opted to take their projects home to finish and bring in if school eventually resumed. Kailey Kleiner says, “I guess it kind of worked out. My group was on track, but the extra time will be nice because we can make our bridge even better.”
Andrew Hoang (8) spreads the word to Nathan Wong (8) about the temporary closure of school. Prior that day, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and the Santa Clara County Office of Education held a press conference, in which all school within the county were instructed to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Nathan Wong said, “I think the closures were a good decision. Plus, we get a break.”

Lunchtime on Friday, March 13 was abuzz with rumors, as news spread around campus of the latest impact that COVID-19 had made on Bernal students.  Later that day, fifth period teachers communicated to their students the outcome of a meeting held just a few hours earlier, in which the Oak Grove School District announced that they, along with all public schools within Santa Clara County, had been instructed to temporarily close until April 6th.  Later, on March 26, the closure was extended until May 1st.  These decisions were made to protect staff and students from the COVID-19 outbreak, and to reduce its spread until districts arranged a safer way to congregate. That same Friday, Mr Barham addressed the school closures to his eighth graders.  “I know as students, you all think this is awesome, but as a teacher there are a ton of other things I consider.  Lots of kids come to school because they don’t have a great home life.  For them, school is what provides them two reliable meals a day, plus childcare while their parents are at work.”  

The prolonged suspension of school also sparked issues regarding teachers’ class plans for the rest of the year.  At the time of the initial closure, schools were to be closed for at least one month, so teachers had to rearrange, cut, and modify units.  Some teachers offered optional work for students to complete during the first period of the closure.  However, once Governor Newsom announced in April that school would not be resuming, distance learning was implemented, during which students met with their teachers weekly via Google Meetings, were assigned work regularly, and were given either a “pass” or “no mark” in place of a letter grade for term six.    

The students of Bernal expressed various opinions on the school closure.  Minh Pham (8) disliked the leniency of distance learning, and said, “Honestly, although it basically gives us a break for the rest of the year, it’s more difficult to learn.  Teachers tend to teach their lessons more vaguely, so I have to learn certain topics on my own.”  In addition to impacting students academically, the abrupt end to school affected their social and personal lives, as students would not get to participate in end of year activities such as the talent show and yearbook signing party.  8th graders were deprived of their Washington D.C. trip, Great America trip, and promotion.  Brenda Duong commented, “I am disappointed that I won’t be able to enjoy the last moments of school with my friends, but I know things could be a lot worse.”