What Do People Think About Going Back To School?


Anabelle Taylor, Journalist

On April 8, 2021, the district moved a plan to move students to a four-day in-person schedule. First, many local students, teachers, and parents, were allowed to express their concerns or their support.

The first speaker was a Junior from CdM, Arsham Dionysium. Dionysium urged the District to wait because “We’re good where we’re at, and we’re not ready yet.” Arsham also mentioned Michigan, which had re-opened too early, and now has more COVID cases than any other state; he asked the board to not make the same mistake.

Tara Fairbanks, the next speaker, also expressed apprehension about the new plan. Ms. Fairbanks works at Estancia Highschool, said “When we express concern for our safety it is from experience.” The experience she is referring to is Estancia previous problems with gas and rats in classrooms, and she didn’t want the district to ignore the risks and discomfort this new schedule would bring especially when it’s changing right before state testing.

One woman, Jenniffer Frank, was supportive of this new plan. Frank is a mother of a high school student and a teacher at OCC, and she reported how hard it is for students and teachers to do distance learning. Jenniffer said, “Their education is suffering.” She believes that everyone needs to get back to school as soon as possible. Underpinning her belief is lower COVID rates and vaccines that are widely available for teachers, and soon will be available to students 16 and older.

Tyler Parks, strongly advocated for students to go back to in-person learning. Surprisingly, he was against the district’s plan because, in his eyes, four days isn’t enough. Parks reported, “anything less than five days a week is not in the best interest of the students.” Later in the meeting trustee Lee- Sung explained, they are not going to do five days a week because on the fifth-day teachers would have to see all their students, and they aren’t ready to accommodate that many students while following COVID guidelines.

Similar to Tyler Parks, Brit Dowdy, a teacher at Ensign Highschool, is in favor of going back to school, but he’s not in favor of the district’s plan. Dowdy pointed out that the majority of Costa Mesa isn’t vaccinated yet, CDC and Dr. Fauchi have warned people about the new variant of COVID that has infected more kids 10-19, and elementary schools had more plans in order before re-opening in-person learning, unlike secondary schools. So, while Dowdy wants to go back, he doesn’t think we should be going back right now.

The last speaker was CdM’s own Ms. Claytor. Mrs. Claytor was at the meeting speaking for the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers. Mrs. Claytor had made a survey with the following options: stay in hybrid, go back to school four days a week, or go back five days a week. 60% of teachers wanted to stay in hybrid. Claytor relayed that the teachers didn’t feel they were ready to take on that many students and maintain three feet of space between the desks.

In the end, the vote passed 6 to 1. All students in Cohort A and B will go back four days a week in-person Mondays will still be on Zoom. The board also assured teachers that they will still remain cautious and follow CDC guidelines.