Local News

Young Observers: Mid November Edition

Over 6,000 (about 48%) FJUHSD high school students returned to in-person classes two weeks ago, a number that is significantly lower than the 10,236 (75%) students who originally signed up before schools opened last August.  With a total student population of 13,470, this means the other half preferred to stick with distance learning (data provided by FJUHSD).

When the FSD elementary and middle schools reopened a month ago, many were relieved to know the students were happy and the implementation of safety protocol went smoothly. Will the high schoolers have similar experiences? What might have driven the thousands of students to change their minds about attending in-person classes and stay with the rest of the distance learners?  What do teachers think of their first week teaching both in-person and online students simultaneously?

It turns out that most high school students who returned to in-person classes are happy to be back in school but they have concerns that need to be heard. The distance learners have adapted well to their new way of life but not without concern, and teachers are working hard to be effective in both in-person and online platforms. Learn more from the survey results below:

Hybrid Learning (2 days in-person / 3 days online): 91 respondents

1) After a week of attending in-person classes, how do you feel?

•Happy: 61

•Disappointed/sad: 20

•Worried about COVID-19 and wish to return to distance learning: 9

While 68% of the respondents are happy to be back in school as they are able to interact with other students and experience the joy of being back on campus, note that a significant number (22%), were disappointed because they think the new normal feels weird and not worth the risk with a handful of students considering shifting back to distance learning.

2) Average number of classmates attending in-person classes: 7

3) Student’s experience upon arrival in school / temperature check:

•Smooth and fast: 88

•Slow: 3

All students go through temperature checks when they arrive at school. Those who are cleared to attend classes are given wrist bands to wear for identification.

4) When transferring from one classroom to another during the passing period, do you follow designated traffic flow and social distancing?

•Yes: 64

•No: 27

While the majority of students follow the safety guidelines, the number of those who don’t (30%) is quite significant. This highlights the need to ensure that students comply with safety standards.

5) Face Masks

•I wear it throughout the school day and I’m comfortable: 68

•I wear it throughout the school day but I’m NOT comfortable: 22

•I am NOT comfortable wearing a mask and I wish to return to distance learning: 1

It is not uncommon for some people  to be uncomfortable with the face mask and it is worth knowing the specific circumstances of the 24% of students who have to deal with these issues on a daily basis. For students who wear glasses, their lenses get fogged up constantly. For those taking Dance and other performance classes during PE, their masks get messed up with sweat.

When the weather is hot or when navigating stairs, it is hard to breathe with the face mask on.

Some suggestions include being allowed to remove the masks when there are very few students in a well-ventilated classroom or when outside the classroom with significant distance from other students.

Distance Learning: 110 respondents

1) With some of your classmates now back to in-person classes, do you feel inclined to join them?

•Yes: 19

•No: 91

Almost all the respondents feel they have made the right decision to stick with distance learning. Besides being able to help control the spread of the virus, they have come to love their new way of life, which includes sleeping longer, not having to commute to school, easy access to homemade meals, and learning in a more relaxed environment. They don’t feel as needy anymore about personal interaction with classmates because they get to meet up during their free time outside school. They don’t think it’s worth wearing face masks for extended periods and enduring a bunch of other restrictions only to end up Zooming in school all day just like when they’re home.


Six teachers shared their experiences with the school reopening including confidence in the reliability of safety protocols. Half the teacher respondents are not comfortable wearing masks but they are managing it. Almost all students in both platforms indicate they can hear the teachers speak through their facemasks.  Most teacher-respondents transitioned smoothly to the new set-up which entails simultaneous teaching to students inside the classroom and to the distance learners via Zoom. A couple of teachers said they are still in the process of adjusting because it is hard to monitor all students on two platforms. This struggle to adapt to the new format is felt by distance learners as they have indicated  that since the start of the in-person learning, teachers are not able to give as much attention to the students attending via Zoom. They think that the teachers unknowingly pay more attention to students who are physically present in the classroom and tend to forget the rest who are not immediately visible on the computer screen unless the next page is clicked because the screen can accommodate only a limited number of students.

Does the risk of getting COVID-19 bother the teachers?  It’s a split between the six teachers but since they are all essential workers they are all committed to carry on with their work.

Key Takeaways

The careful and thorough preparation for the school reopening has paid off, with the majority of the students satisfied and happy and safety protocols implemented smoothly.  The distance learners are just as happy learning from home and the teachers are working hard to make things  work for both in-person and online students.

However, there are key points from the survey that are worth a second look, like the concern raised by distance learners about not getting as much attention from the teachers  as the students attending in-person class. Sharing this feedback with the teachers will help them make the necessary adjustment.  Knowing that many students do not comply with traffic flow or social distancing rules, schools must ensure that there is a monitoring system in place.  Schools must also  provide  solutions to students who have difficulty wearing masks for extended periods including those who wear glasses and attend PE classes. They should also take into consideration students’ suggestions such as being allowed to remove face masks when inside a well-ventilated classroom with very few students or when outside the classroom and socially distanced from other students, and providing extra face masks to students if their face masks get messed up during PE.  One student suggested that the face mask can be a tool to promote school spirit and the schools might want to consider making them available for students.

Did you know that countries all over the world have their own unique Thanksgiving dishes? Here are some international dishes that are staples of other countries’ Thanksgiving celebrations.  First stop, Thailand. One of their main Thanksgiving dishes is Thai Turkey Meatballs. These meatballs include a variety of flavors such as ginger, basil, and onions. They look generally small for meatballs, but they sure look like one jam-packed meal. For our next dish, let’s head over to Sweden and discover their Hasselback potatoes. They are basically french fries that are not fully cut yet. The twist is you put butter in between each slice to make the potato a bit more creamy and delicious. It’s time we visit England. Their main Thanksgiving dish is Turkey Meatloaf with Fig Gravy. If you are looking for something to add a bit of spice to your next Thanksgiving dinner, these are some great international foods you could try.

Many people have been stuck in their houses and have rarely gone outside, especially with everything moving online and quarantine taking up the majority of the year. However, with National Take a Hike Day coming up on November 17, you can take the time to get out of your house and walk around. Hiking is a major part of our culture and a common way of getting exercise. In earlier years, however, it wasn’t as popular as it is now. The Romantic and Transcendentalism movements shifted the popularity of art and culture over to nature and the outside world. Since the 1800s, hiking has become the popular sport it is today.  To celebrate this holiday, you can take some time to step outside and go on a hike, whether it’s only for a day or for three. Finding a trail is easy, as the National Trail System covers all 50 states with 60,000 miles of trails. Locally, our city boasts of up to 28 miles of recreational trails that residents and visitors enjoy on a daily basis. A complete list and guide is available at http://www.cityoffullerton.com.