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The Current

Limited options for quarantined students

The Isolation Area is a place where ill students can wait until they get picked up. Photo by Benny Gullo

As the pandemic stubbornly continues, many bruins are feeling its effects as quarantines trap students at home, limiting communication.

Students who are in close contact with someone who contracts COVID-19 or who contract it themselves are required to quarantine. There are no Zoom classes available this year, students are expected to complete work using Schoology and email communication.

Principal Chris Roberts gave insight into why there is no distance learning available for students, quarantined or not.

“Last year we received an exemption for on campus teaching by the state of California that allowed us to do distance learning,” he said. “That exemption was revoked at the end of the school year last year. We are not, at this point, allowed- I hate to use the word allowed. We have no jurisdiction or ability to do distance learning based on what we’ve been accredited here at Bear River.”

For students who prefer distance learning or are uncomfortable with in person instruction, there are other options available in the area. 

“We have a school in our district, North Point Academy, that’s a distance learning school,” said Roberts. “They don’t do it via zoom, it is [an] independent study program. I do know that there are distance learning schools in our area, but Bear River High School; That’s not something we’re allowed to do at this point.”

Student quarantines are a difficult reality for some students as many have trouble completing schoolwork because of health, internet, or communication issues. 

“I don’t really like online school, so I’m glad to be back,” said Junior Aimee Brink. “I fell way behind when I was gone. I do think it would be nice if we got a week to do the assignments after we got back, like an extended due date on things. That way you can focus on recovering.”

“It was not fun,” said Senior Bella Gonzales, another quarantined student. “Being at home for ten days was like how it used to feel like and it was just not a good experience. Especially having internet issues at home, I didn’t like it at all. I don’t really like having Zoom at all, but just better instructions from the teachers. I emailed a lot of my teachers and they really didn’t get back to me at all. So just better communication skills with the kids that are quarantined because it does seem to happen a lot.”

“I got quarantined because my parents and little sibling got COVID-19,” said Junior Caleb McGehee. “[B]ut I did not. It was kind of like being in the middle of summer, I mean I didn’t really check my homework too much. I should’ve, but I didn’t get too far behind because I was only gone for three days.”

Roberts said that the staff is ready to give grace to students, recognizing that students do not control the situation they are put in. 

“I think the majority of our teachers on campus are understanding and compassionate and are willing to give grace to students that are on quarantine,” he said. “The understanding I know is that this is no fault of the student- most likely. Unless they’re going around trying to get COVID-19, which I highly doubt. Students are kind of a victim of this to begin with and, I can tell you, last year my son had to quarantine. It was a horrible experience for him, granted we did have distance learning at the time which made it a little bit easier for him to do that. But he had to miss a couple soccer games, he had to miss practice [for] soccer, he had to make up assignments and things like that. So, I totally get that and understand that. The message we gave last year continues to be the same message this year, and that is: We are all about grace for students and allowing them to have time.”

Recognizing the difficult situation quarantined students are in, Roberts said that expectations still stand.

“I think there is a feeling from staff, however, that meeting deadlines and meeting due dates is an extremely important character trait for a student,” he said. “Especially one that’s getting ready to go into college. So, teaching that is a very important task for our teachers as well.”

Roberts concluded by pointing out that grace is not a one way street. 

“We’re all in this together, this is a team effort for sure,” he said. “The last year and a half, 18, 19 months now, seems like it’s gone by so fast and in many ways it hasn’t. Seeing as we’ve been in this together for this amount of time I think we’ve learned a lot about each other. I think we’ve learned a lot about how to be human beings and to really have empathy and grace for each other in a difficult time and in very difficult circumstances. I think grace goes both ways.”

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Limited options for quarantined students