By MOHIT KOSURU
IUSD schools will remain open per state guidelines as Orange County moves back into the purple tier.
California is under a four-tier, color-coded classification system to track coronavirus cases and trends. The four tiers are yellow, orange, red, and purple, with yellow being the least restrictive and purple being the most. On November 16th, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that 41 counties, including Orange County, will move into the purple tier.
Counties in the purple tier must shut down their bars, movie theaters, and other nonessential businesses. A 25-50% maximum capacity limit is placed upon essential businesses, including supermarkets. Guidelines for the purple tier stipulate that schools that were already open for in-person learning while in the red tier may continue to hold classes in-person, with all necessary precautions in place.
“According to these guidelines, schools only have to return to the distance learning format when the cases at an individual school or within a district hit a certain mark,” Dr. Kevin Astor said. “Our cases in IUSD have remained so low that we are able to continue offering in-person instruction through our hybrid structure despite the county numbers increasing.”
According to the California Department of Public Health, the recent surges in coronavirus cases have not been due to in-person schooling, but rather an increase in social gatherings. Lately, there has been a slight increase in COVID-19 cases across the district, including one confirmed case among staff members at UHS. However, IUSD ensures that they will continue to work closely with state and local health agencies to monitor the situation and stay current with new guidelines and statistics.
“We’re in this together, and to keep our schools safe and open, we need everyone doing their part by following health and safety guidelines not just while on campus, but off campus too,” Astor said.
Increased restrictions have been placed upon school sports with the change from the red tier to the purple tier.
“In accordance with updated state guidelines, IUSD and Uni have made adjustments to sports,” Astor said. “Practices are happening primarily outdoors and no equipment is being shared between athletes unless it has been disinfected.”
Sophomore and Frosh-Soph Cross Country runner Weiheng Wang agrees with these new restrictions on sports.
“I’m not against these new rules because playing sports indoors and using the same equipment increases the spread of the virus,” Wang said.
Some students are fine with continuing with the current hybrid system and feel confident in the district’s response.
“As long as UHS and IUSD do their part in maintaining social distancing and safety precautions, it will be safe for students to attend school physically,” junior Maximillian Li said.
Others disagree with IUSD’s response to the recent change from the red tier to the purple tier. They believe that the increase in cases, as indicated by the tier change, puts people at risk and that it is better to revert to distance learning.
“UHS should do their part in stopping this pandemic and preventing cases among the student body by sending students back home,” said junior Sohrob Habibi. “The hybrid learning model, at this point, is inferior to the previous distance learning one, as we have less time to communicate with educators and are burdened by the necessary covid precautions.”
Junior Jasmine Nourisamie agrees with Habibi and does not find IUSD’s response to be in the community’s best interest.
“I disagree with Uni’s decision to continue in-person instruction after OC joined the purple tier. I believe public safety and health should always come first,” Nourisamie said. “It seems that IUSD is not focusing on the health and well-being of its students, staff, and families.”
Students believe that as cases continue to rise in record numbers, everyone should do their part and stay home.
“If we want to successfully flatten the curve, we have to stay home and effectively social distance,” Nourisamie said.
The IUSD Covid Dashboard can be accessed here: https://iusd.org/covid-19-resource-page/covid-19-dashboard