Fullerton Joint Union high schools will officially begin the 2020-21 academic year virtually after the district’s board of trustees approved the plan on Thursday.
The move comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced strict criteria on Friday for schools to reopen in California. Under Newsom’s order, schools can physically open if the county they are in is off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. Of the state’s 58 counties, 36 are on the list as of Thursday night, including Orange County.
At the board’s meeting on June 29, a tentative hybrid schedule was approved that would have students have in-person instruction for two days and three days of virtual instruction. The district was already considering the possibility of starting with distance learning even before Newsom’s announcement.
“After seeing the number of COVID-19 cases rise, board members became concerned with the opening of schools, even using the hybrid model,” said Andy Montoya, the board’s president.
Despite starting virtually, board member Marilyn Buchi raised concerns about when a safety report for returning to campus would be completed as it would pertain to students, teachers and parents.
Superintendent Scott Scambray said that a safety committee is working on organizing a plan, and that it will be presented at the next board meeting on Aug. 4, one week before the first day of school for students. He added that teachers could return to campuses on Aug. 3 to retrieve any items from their classrooms as well as coordinate any plans to go in their classrooms any other time.
Schools within the district have been closed since March 16. Students at the 29 schools in the Fullerton School District, as well as the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, will begin classes on Aug. 11.
Scambray said that he does not think it will be a hard transition once students can return to the classroom because of the already approved hybrid plan.
“I believe that once we are off the watch list, and then following the two weeks after that, I’m thinking it would take us about a week because our schedule is set up to move right from distance learning into some type of a hybrid model,” Scambray said. “We will be ready.”
The next board meeting will be live streamed through Zoom on August 4 at 6 p.m.