Education

Young Observers: August Edition

In two weeks, Fullerton schools will reopen to regular in-person classes despite the renewed threat from COVID-19 variants and the significant rise in daily new cases. I reached out to a small group of 43 middle through high school students to gain insight on their vaccination status, their thoughts on mask wearing, preferred learning format and more. Read on to get their perspective on these and other school-related issues that impact Fullerton’s youth and their school officials.

Have you been vaccinated?

Yes: 88% (38)

No: 12% (5)

First dose only: 0%

Compared to the Orange County’s 7/21/2021 vaccination data showing 68% of youth ages 12-17 have been vaccinated (https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccination-progress-data/#progress-by-group), the survey shows a trend that Fullerton’s vaccination rate among its youth is higher than the county’s and it should be very close to acquiring herd immunity. It is indicative of the students and their parents’ understanding of the need to be protected from the coronavirus before returning to in-person classes. On the other hand, there are still a few students who have not been vaccinated, a group which should be considered by the school districts when they implement safety measures.

What are your concerns regarding the new school year?

COVID variants threat: 64% (28)

Losing comfort associated with online classes: 57% (24).

None: 14% (6)

Other: 14% (6)

Understandably, the majority of student respondents are concerned about attending school while the coronavirus variants are still a threat. Many are also concerned about losing the comfort that comes with online learning which ranges from not having to wake up early nor commute or the fact that the kitchen is only a couple of steps away. Other respondents also expressed social anxiety, feeling insecure about their abilities to interact with others after more than a year in isolation making it difficult for them to make new friends. This is a huge issue for teens so schools must think of strategies to help students with social anxiety to feel included and accepted.

What are you looking forward to this new school year?

Being with friends weekdays: 79% (33)

Meeting new classmates: 74% (32)

School events: 57% (24)

In person learning: 52% 23)

None: 17% (4)

For most students, school is essentially a place for socialization. The majority of respondents are looking forward to the social aspect of in-person school with the learning aspect only a far third. Considering that the respondents are in their teens, school events like prom and other parties count among precious high school experiences.

What is your ideal school program: full in-person, hybrid (online + in-person) or full online?

Full in person: 52% (23)

Hybrid: 31% (13)

Full online: 17% (7)

While the trend favors in-person classes, it is worthy to note that almost half think otherwise. 31% prefer to be in school half of the week and attend online classes for the rest of the week and 17% want a full online format. Should there be a need to lessen the number of students in school at a given time to avoid the spread of the virus, the hybrid format is an option.

Will you be attending school events despite the threat of new variants? Why?

Yes: 67% (29)

No: 7% (3)

Depends: 26% (11)

The data follows suit with the majority set on enjoying in-person classes this school year. The top reasons students will attend school events is to take advantage of the high school experience as well as their trust in the school’s safety measures and in their vaccination. Respondents also mentioned that attending such events would be beneficial to their mental, physical and social health, a major issue that set them back last school year. Smaller percentages (26% “depends” and 7% “no”) are taking a more cautious approach to this school year regardless of their vaccination status. They fear they will contract coronavirus and bring it home to their families due to the fact the events may involve large groups of people, therefore increasing chances of a spreader event.

If your school allows you to take off your mask if you are fully vaccinated, will you? Or, will you keep it on? Why?

No: 73% (31)

Occasionally: 15% (7))

Yes: 12% (5)

The result highlights our city’s youths’ sense of responsibility during this pandemic by volunteering to keep their masks on. When asked why, the top answer involves concern to protect themselves and other students from contracting the virus, especially if that person is unvaccinated. Those who chose “occasionally,” they plan to take off their masks when necessary such as when they need to eat or get a breath of fresh air.

Key Takeaways:

Overall, students are excited to take back some sense of normalcy by attending full in-person school. With most surveyed students having full vaccination status and willing to continue wearing face masks, Fullerton school officials will have less worries than their counterparts in other districts where there is a low vaccination rate among students. Another reason to be grateful is that Fullerton students are willing to do their part to help prevent the spread of the virus on campus while hoping to have a fun school year. Given that about half of the respondents prefer hybrid or online learning formats, school officials can use this as a guide when they need to modify the learning format to prevent the spread of the virus in schools.

The Fullerton School District’s summer break is almost over. Here are the three options you can enroll your child in for the upcoming school year which opens on August 16:

Standard In-Person Schooling

Students will attend their school campus five days a week, as if it is a normal school year. The state of California is still requiring students and adults in a school setting to wear their masks on campus, regardless of vaccination status. The only exception to this protocol is when students and staff are outdoors, in which masks are optional. In addition, social distancing will no longer be enforced around school campuses. However, schools will still implement and promote regularly washing hands and staying clean. If a student fails to comply with these safety measures, they may be moved to another learning site.

Virtual/Distance Learning

If you do not feel comfortable sending your child to school, they can attend this option, since it doesn’t require in-person attendance. The student will be learning from home or away from campus, most likely via Zoom or another application. At the start of a new semester/trimester, students can switch from virtual to on-site and vice versa, assuming there is enough space. If there is no space on-campus, the student may be moved to a different school.

My FSD Academy Homeschool program

Hosted by three different schools across FSD, the parent is the main teacher in this program. It involves mostly independent work, with some on-campus and online instruction sprinkled in. Parents and students can meet with teachers to create their own personalized work plans.

Watch those dancing eyes! Look at those adorable ears! Meet Marlow, a handsome Labrador retriever Carolina dog. Did you know Labradors are named after the Labrador Sea? A snow-white and caramel dog, he was taken in by the shelter on 08/05/2020. Superbly smart and superbly fit, the fetch-loving, six-year old, energetic canine is ready for a permanent home. A treat-lover, he’ll love to eat a yummy treat as a prize! Marlow is searching for an adult-only home, or one with older children to teach him his “leash manners” and train him, along with scrumptious treats, of course! To learn more, please call 714-935-6848, or visit www.ocpetinfo.com.

Endangered animal trivia

Q: What is the most critically endangered and most rare marine animal in the world? (Hint: It is a member of the porpoise family.)

A: The smallest of living Cetaceans, the vaquita! It is estimated that here are 6 to 22 individuals in the world. With a white head and belly, it has a dove gray back. The vaquita has a black circle around the eyes and it has black fin and a soot black tail. It has a round snout, with black lips. It is being snared and killed by illegal fishing. Mexico has put in over 10 million dollars to help the cause of the vaquita.

Amid Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s controversies of alleged tax-avoidance and unethical employment practices, he recently made headlines for his space exploration on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ship. The recent event led to the launch in early June of a satiric petition to ban Bezos from Earth. With over 186,000 signatures on Change.org, “Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth” is close to becoming one of the top-signed petitions on the site. While originally comical, many are taking this as an opportunity to educate themselves on billionaires, wealth inequality and the impact of capitalism on the world. To read more visit www.npr.org/2021/06/20/1008559802/tens-of-thousands-sign-petition-tostop-jeff-bezos-from-returning-to-earth.

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