Coronavirus Closes Whittier Union High School District

La Serna High School transitions to online classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Isa Ruacho, Contributor

The first week of La Serna’s online schooling is coming to a close, with everyone wondering- how did it come to this? and how much longer is it going to last?

Even though rumors of school cancellation had been flooding La Serna’s hallways for weeks, the gossip was typically taken as a joke. It was not until mid-last week that all the rumors were seeming increasingly realistic, the headlines of every news channel announced major changes. For example, on Wednesday, March 11, the National Basketball Association announced that they would be suspending their season. By Thursday night, hundreds of other organizations had followed in their footsteps- from U.S. Soccer and Major League Baseball, to Disneyland and Universal Studios, to the LA school district and most private high schools in this area. Governor Gavin Newsom even ordered that all Californian gatherings of over 250 people were to be cancelled or postponed. Friday morning, students were buzzing with questions regarding the possibility of La Serna shifting to online schooling, but nobody had a definite answer. It was not until  4:00 p.m. that afternoon, that on-line schooling became official.

An announcement was made through an email sent by Superintendent Martin J. Plourde to all members of the Whittier Union High School District community. The email stated that the school closure was a result of a recommendation from the Los Angeles County Office of Education to “minimize the exposure and spread of COVID-19.” According to this email, the dismissal will continue until Sunday, April 5,  including Spring Break. Until then, activities and assignments would be posted online, so that students would not fall behind in their studies.

The Whittier Union High School Campuses closed not only for daily classes, but also for “all school-related events and activities,” including all sporting events and the SAT testing that had been scheduled for Saturday, April 14th.  Superintendent Plourde explained that these actions were taken as a precaution to protect students and staff in advance, since there has been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Whittier Union High School District.

This news would change the daily lives of all Whittier Union students, but especially those who rely on schools for meals and access to technology.  On Sunday, Principal Fitzgerald sent out an email in regards to food and technological services. Any student from the age of 1 to 18 could pick up a “grab and go meal” through a drive-through process in the La Serna parking lot from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. Thanks to Charter Communication and Comcast, free in- home WiFi became accessible to all families who need it in order for their students to continue their education during the quarantine.

Although the Whittier Union High School District has only officially announced a three-week cancellation of classes on campus, news on the national scale gives students reason to believe that they will be learning from home for much longer. As of Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there should be no gatherings of over 50 people for the next 8 weeks. By following this recommendation, students would not return to school until the week of May 10. In fact, the College Board has already posted an official announcement that the SAT testing scheduled for May 2nd is now cancelled nationwide, prompting the question- what will happen to AP students who are scheduled to take their AP tests in May? The College Board has yet to confirm a definite answer to that.

Furthermore, this Monday, President Trump made an announcement recommending that “all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel, and avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts.” With the amount of people gathered in one place constantly shrinking, why would a school of over 3000 students go back to their campus?

For now, students must wait patiently for and answers while quarantined in their homes. All they can do is try to stay caught up with schoolwork, stay occupied, stay sanitary, and stay at home.