On Monday, Fountain Valley High School had its first House of Representatives meeting of the year, taking student questions about the beginning of a historic and unusual school year.
FVHS’s House of Representatives is a bimonthly forum where one student representative from each third-period class on campus can ask questions to representatives of the Associated Student Body as well as of FVHS administration, guidance and maintenance. Student representatives are tasked with collecting their classmates’ concerns before each meeting, presenting them to representatives at the meeting and relaying responses back to their peers afterward.
While the House of Representatives meetings have traditionally been held in the FVHS Cafeteria, this year’s meeting was held on Zoom. The next meetings are scheduled to take place on Jan. 1, 2021, March 8, 2021 and May 24, 2021.
Here are the topics and questions that were discussed in the meeting.
Is there a limit to the workload teachers can assign every day?
Some students expressed their frustration with the amount of work assigned daily by teachers despite the shorter time they have to learn. In response, Principal Morgan Smith clarified that while there isn’t an explicit policy imposing limits on the work teachers can assign, the FVHS administration is asking teachers to be considerate and flexible.
Smith also recommended that students communicate their concerns and situations with their teachers, and to reach out to the administration if they need support advocating for themselves to their teachers.
Assistant Principal of Activities Kelly Skon added that students may be receiving more work than they are used to because some independent assignments are intended to count asynchronous classwork and the school’s new schedule counts both live instruction and independent work to fulfill instructional minute requirements.
Will students return 100% to in-person school and use the same schedule as last year for next semester or year?
As of right now, the school is working with the district and the county to develop a schedule for next semester. Keeping in mind that schools in the district share teachers, the schedule must be the same as every school in the district to align with the teacher’s schedules.
According to the administration, there isn’t a clear decision regarding schedules yet, but there’s a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in California and Orange County.
Students are also free to change their choice from in-person learning to online throughout the semester and vice versa as long as they reach out to their guidance counselor and confirm with their parents.
Will distance teachers have substitutes the whole year?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds the ability for teachers to distance teach. The school administration supports teachers and their own dynamics as they also support students and their dynamics.
Can teachers force students to have their cameras on for attendance?
Students are not required to have their camera open to be marked present; however, it’s recommended that students have their cameras on as it leads to higher engagement with teachers in class and higher performance for students.
Attendance codes have been sent out to students’ and parents’ emails to explain what each number means. If a student is having problems, the administration recommends calling attendance.
How is safety being ensured on campus?
If someone is COVID-19 positive, the school will be directed by the county on how to react and work with the Orange County Health Authority to do contact tracing and find out who the person was in contact with. When the school finds people who were in contact with the positive case, the county will direct the school to notify those who need to be quarantined which will generally last 14 days.
In classrooms, students are socially distanced through the way chairs are set up six-feet apart; however, during passing periods if students get close together, a staff member will ask that students maintain their distance. Staff will either wear face masks or face shields. Masks are also available for students in the form of cloth or paper masks.
The school takes the necessary steps of preventing infection by cleaning nightly using the Environmental Protection Agency recommended products that kill COVID-19.
Regarding restroom capacity, the school asks for the maximum number of students in a restroom to be equivalent to the number of sinks in that specific restroom.
How will dances, events, field trips and school activities be held?
The school is developing safe alternatives to hold activities and events for students such as virtual field trips being planned by teachers, clubs holding events and fundraisers virtually and virtual theater performances.
A yearbook will be released this year and asks for student features on the different grade level Canvas courses. The school also posts virtual activities and discussions on Canvas grade level courses such as What’s up Wednesday, student highlights and dress-up days.
There has been a gas leak problem in the English building; has anything been done to solve it?
Smith clarified that there has not been a gas leak in the English building. After three environmental evaluations, the school was informed that the odor that students smelled wasn’t toxic. It was a result of the fresh air that heaters brought as the air was being circulated. This odor may have been because of road work near the school or a company working with asphalt.
New heating, ventilation and air conditioning filters are now being used in school to eliminate any of these odors and also protect from COVID-19 in the air.
Need more help or support?
Teachers have office hours and they work until 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday. There’s also a free tutoring service for FVHS students.
Stepping away from screens and going outside while socially distanced can decrease students’ stress levels, school psychologist Cynthia Olaya said. Students are encouraged to use resources provided by the school if they need help or assistance.