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Bear River reverts to distance learning in hopes of safer return

Bruins gather with their friends on a sunny day. Photo by Maya Bussinger

Following the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases, plunging surrounding counties into the “purple” tier of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the Nevada Joint Union High School District announced on November 20 that schools will return to full distance learning beginning after Thanksgiving Break for safety purposes.

In an all-call email to student families last night, District Assistant Superintendent Dan Frisella elaborated on why the decision was made.

“This week, we received a recommendation from Nevada County’s Public Health Department, advising schools that close for the Thanksgiving holiday to consider a ‘pause’ to on-campus instruction, and to reinstitute Distance Learning for the month of December,” he said. “It is the belief of the public health department that pausing in-person classes for two or more incubation periods will help reduce exposure and circulation of the virus, county-wide.”

Nine students in the district have confirmed cases of COVID-19, two of which are from Bear River High School. Mr. Frisella continued to explain how this affected the district’s decision.

“The health and safety of our students, staff, and community remain our top priority,” he stated. “As a school community, the growing number of cases involving students and staff has considerably strained our school operations due to required quarantining and isolation.”

Sophomore Natalie Trogdon and Junior Jordan Foster recognized the need to make this change based on safety concerns.

“I’m okay with going back to distance learning because they’re trying to keep everyone safe,” said Trogdon. “The decision doesn’t really affect me too much … I do hope that in-person learning comes back next semester, though!”

“It’s unsafe [to continue going to school] if people already got it at school because a bunch of people were probably exposed to it,” said Foster. “Plus cases in general are already going up so it would be better. The only thing is that practice for sports is stopping and there may not be a season which is really sad.”

However, Senior Klaire Wolford had a vastly different opinion about returning to full distance learning.

“I’m pretty upset about going full distance learning,” she said. “I think it’s important for us to be in school. Students’ mental health is greatly impacted by losing that social aspect we get at school.”

Junior Isabella Gonzales agreed with Wolford’s opinion of students’ mental health being at risk with this change.

“I just really enjoy going to school so I don’t like the decision one bit,” she said. “[This decision] … affects my mental health. Going to school and seeing my friends makes me very happy, and when it comes to my learning, I learn better in a classroom so going back to distance learning isn’t good for me.”

Other students held the same sentiment regarding how they learn over distance learning, though held a different opinion on the importance of closing in-person classes.

“It’s no secret that the COVID numbers are increasing. It’s becoming more dangerous, [and] there are a crazy amount of cases,” said Sophomore Olivia DesAutels. “I do not feel comfortable at school with the cases being this high. It might have to get worse before it gets better, and this is how that may happen. I learn horribly with distance learning, but I would rather be safe than sorry.”

Mr. Frisella expressed understanding regarding the division in students’ opinions about this matter in his email.

“We understand that this news will be received with mixed emotions – relief, discouragement, stress, understanding, and more,” he said. “Please know that we continue to make the best decisions we can in the interest of student learning, the safety of our students, staff, and families, and the emotional well-being of all.”

~Jamey Slater contributed to this report.

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Bear River reverts to distance learning in hopes of safer return