During Jan 1-7, 257 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 on campus1 and over 400 more were self quarantining2. The district has been experiencing up to four day delays in notifying those that test positive3. Despite this, Samohi still wants to reduce COVID safety restrictions, such as reducing time to quarantine and contact tracing for vaccinated students4. Getting vaccinated remains the best way to prevent severe symptoms of COVID-19. However, although 88% of students at Samohi are vaccinated5, asymptomatic infections are still common. Due to the rapid spread of Omicron, Los Angeles has broken its daily new case record almost every day for the last two weeks6, so we have not yet reached the peak of the worst surge of the pandemic.
Clearly, it is not yet safe to return to schools. Please urge Samohi to switch to distance learning for two weeks to allow this surge to subside by emailing your school board members, advisor, and principal. If you need ideas for what to say, I’ve included a template below. You can also click here to send the template to all school board members at once.
Thank you and stay safe,
(This message reflects the views of a concerned student, not the school or district.)
Information in bold should be reviewed and updated before sending the message.
To NAME OF STAFF CONTACTED,
Last Sunday, 1/9/22, Samohi sent out an email which severely underreported the number of cases on campus (140 when it was over 250, not including 400 self-isolations). Despite the spike in cases, it also suggested that COVID restrictions were being loosened starting 1/18 by shortening quarantine times and reducing contact tracing for vaccinated students. The vaccine is extremely effective against severe symptoms of COVID, but mild or asymptomatic cases are still common, and the more the virus spreads, the more likely a new, more dangerous variant could mutate. To make matters worse, Los Angeles has experienced record breaking case numbers almost every day for the last two weeks, demonstrating that we have not yet hit the peak of the worst surge of the pandemic.
Although I am fully vaccinated with a booster, I’m still not comfortable with returning to school with the rapid spread of Omicron and the dangerous changes being made to Samohi’s COVID safety protocols. A district announcement on 1/2/22 stated that parents could keep their students at home until the first week of test results were published. Now that these statistics have been published, it is clear that schools are not safe. In addition, some students who have tested positive were not notified for four days and therefore remained on campus. Since no announcement has been made about Samohi’s plans for next week and whether absences will continue to be excused, I’m wondering what my options are since I still do not feel safe returning to in-person instruction.
I believe the most effective change would be to switch to distance learning for two weeks and allow this surge in cases to subside. Students that have stayed home are able to keep up with Google Classroom assignments, but are missing crucial lectures and exams, risking that they fall behind in advanced and fast-paced courses. We shouldn’t to have to choose between our education and our health. Even though the conditions aren’t ideal, distance learning for just a couple weeks would allow all students to keep receiving instruction at the same rate. But until a change like this is implemented, for my safety and the safety of the community, I will continue to prioritize my health and stay home.
Although a hybrid system sounds enticing, it will only provide the worst of both worlds. Similar to the last few weeks of the 2020-21 school year, teachers would likely have difficulty juggling in-person and online students, and one group would be favored. People at home would continue to be disadvantaged for prioritizing their health rather than giving everyone equal ground. Also, if there is an in-person option, some parents will urge their students to go to school regardless of whether it is the best choice for their health. The only way to ensure the continuity of education for all students is a short-term, fully online distance learning period.
It is crucial that Samohi takes the proper precautions to stop the spread of COVID, even if the potential It is crucial that Samohi takes the proper precautions to stop the spread of COVID, even if symptoms are mild. Mass quarantining of students as a result of high case rates causes them to fall behind in coursework, which can be avoided by implementing distance learning. I’m hoping you can share this with other staff at Samohi or within the district so that the best choice for students’ safety, not just the school’s budget, can be made.
Thank you and stay safe,
FULL NAME (GRADE)
Who to Contact
Dr. Shelton, Principal: [email protected]
Keith Coleman, School Board: [email protected]
Craig Foster, School Board: [email protected]
Jon Kean, School Board: [email protected]
Maria Leon-Vazquez, School Board: [email protected]
Laurie Lieberman, School Board: [email protected]
Jennifer Smith, School Board: [email protected]
Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, School Board: [email protected]
Advisors or House Principals: https://www.smmusd.org/domain/2961
- Indirect communication with Samohi’s COVID Site Compliance Committee on 1/10/22
- Email from Dr. Shelton on 1/9/22
- https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/california-covid-cases.html (via Google)