By MOHIT KOSURU
In response to IUSD’s decision to resume in-person school after a surge in cases over the holiday season, a student-led organization called ‘IUSD Student Strike’ emerged to plan a district-wide strike. The strike was supposed to occur during the week of January 26th, but according to the strike organizers, the Portola administration encouraged them to call off the strike. The administration told their students that zeroes on tests and assignments would be given out if students were absent.
“Many people have assumed that because the strike was cancelled, the plan failed, but that is not the case,” the IUSD Student Strike team said. “We understand that an academic model shift is extremely unlikely, but our goal would be to either modify the current hybrid model to improve student mental health and safety or establish better means of enforcing COVID guidelines on campus.”
Other than the strike, the organization has been in contact with some site representatives of the Irvine Teachers Association for their advice on attendance policies, and have talked to several anonymous teachers for tips. They have been drafting multiple formal policies regarding school closures, the “O” attendance policy, and mental health absences. They have also released a survey on student mental health and safety on campus, and these results were sent out to IUSD counseling departments at each high school as well as to the IUSD Board of Education.
“Behind the scenes, one of our members, Anne, has made phone calls to 3 of the 5 members of the board of education (Sharon Wallin, Ira Glasky, and Cyril Yu),” IUSD Student Strike said. “As a team, we [had a Zoom call] with Cyril Yu last night.”
Students recognize that shutting down school completely would be highly unlikely, but they hoped that campuses would close for two weeks after winter break.
“I don’t think there’s any need to officially shut down, but we should have spent the first two weeks after winter break quarantining,” junior Charlotte Ying said. “After two weeks, I think returning to campus with our usual hybrid model would be fine.”
Some students believe that stricter safety protocols should be in place to make staff and students feel safer while on campus.
“I think temperatures of every student should be at least taken during each school day, and that the number of people in each cohort should be more limited,” sophomore Katherine Yu said.
School nurse Ms. Azita Ghaderifard reported that as of January 16th, Uni has had a total of 31 reported and 2 unreported cases among the student population. The staff has had a total of 14 cases reported.
“We want to emphasize that the goal is not to close schools down long-term… our end goal is to make online school more accessible to students while leaving safer in-person instruction available for people who need it,” IUSD Student Strike stated in an Instagram story.