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Pandemic prompts school closure, shift to ‘distance learning’

Bear River Principal Chris Roberts walks towards the Bear River library, where an emergency staff meeting was held on Friday March 13 to discuss a plan to allow students to continue their learning while they’re at home. Photo by Zach Fink

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is taking the world by storm, and impacting Bruins’ lives in ways that, two weeks ago, we never would’ve dreamt possible. New questions have arisen each and every day, leaving many wondering, if this is today, what could tomorrow bring? Even with everything going on we will continue to bring you the latest news as it arises.

As of Friday March 13 school was officially closed until at least April 13.  This affects all schools in the Nevada Joint Union High School District, as well as all other schools in the area. At this time, the closure will be reevaluated, and potentially extended. 

Even though students are not able to receive a traditional in-person learning currently, the transition to virtual classrooms is something the district and teachers have been determined to accomplish well. This virtual learning has been referred to as ‘Distance Learning’ by schools across the country. Distance learning for Bruins began on Wednesday March 25. 

The school closures were closely followed by a state-wide “Stay at Home” order from California Governor Gavin Newsom, urging students to stay home aside from participation in essential activities. 

In an email sent out recently, Guidance Counselor Mary Buhr explained how the next few weeks should look.

“Here’s the plan for the next three weeks: March 24-27… you will be receiving messages from your teachers about online coursework,” she said. “Check your school email frequently, as well as Schoology. For those of you without internet access, you can pick up hard copies tomorrow (Wednesday, March 25) from 12:30-2:30 at school.  March 30-April 3… continue to check your school email and Schoology. Follow your routine. April 6-10… SPRING BREAK – enjoy! By April 12, we should know what to expect for the rest of the school year.”

Various teachers have different plans for the continuation of education through the internet.

History Teacher Jeffrey Carrow explained that he plans to inform students of assignments through Schoology, and trust Bruins to complete their work in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, Music Teacher David Ahrens said that he plans to use a video forum to allow practice for the annual Fantasy of the Stars concert, originally set to be performed in March, but currently postponed indefinitely.

English Teacher Kristina Knox also plans on keeping in touch with her students through a video forum. For her Expository Reading and Writing Class (ERWC), Ms. Knox planned a set time Monday through Friday to meet virtually with her class, and offered additional tutoring for students who would like itl.

Mrs. Buhr encouraged students to stick to some sort of schedule.

“My recommendation is to get into some kind of routine,” said Mrs. Buhr. “For example: 10:00-noon… pick your hardest subject and work on it first, then pick your next hardest. After you complete assignments in these two classes, take a lunch break. 1:00-3:00… spend this time working on your other classes, then take a break and get outside for a walk or play. After dinner… complete assignments for any other classes you didn’t get to earlier in the day.”

Bear River Principal Chris Roberts explained how these decisions are being made, and spoke to Bruin families about the importance of safety during this health crisis.

“My statement to the students, staff and families at Bear River High School would be that any decision that we make will be to ensure their safety,” he said. “The safety of the students, staff and families is paramount in everything we do. All of our actions are an attempt to be as preventative and proactive as possible. Being a South County resident, we’re all in this together and the school and the district are here to help in whatever way we can during this unprecedented time.”

— Sonora Slater contributed to this report

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Pandemic prompts school closure, shift to ‘distance learning’