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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

January surge was foreseeable, California should have planned for remote learning

By Oralis Ward | Staff Writer

   As the holiday season concluded and the second semester at Gabrielino High School began, COVID-19 cases in students rose exponentially, as they did across the state. Despite the challenges of online learning, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Education (CDE) should have taken preemptive steps to fund remote schooling during the first few weeks of January.

   According to the San Gabriel Unified School District’s  COVID-19 Dashboard, Gabrielino had over 100 confirmed student cases of COVID-19 and one confirmed staff case as of Jan. 11. Due to this rise in infections, absences rose from a mere 28 students on Dec. 17 to an average of 403 students per day during the week of  Jan. 10.

  Kathy Ott, Gabirelino office manager, stated that the school  was also averaging nine teacher absences a day during the first two weeks of school.

   Had students and staff remained at home for the first few weeks of January, many of these COVID cases could have been prevented. Absences would have lessened, as  many were the result of students being quarantined due to a classmate testing positive for the coronavirus. This situation was preventable.

  Forbes senior writer, Jack Kelly, stated, “Remote learning is already seen throughout the school districts of 21 states due to the Omicron variant spreading immensely.”

   With the increased number of students and teachers out sick entirely expected prior to the holiday season, California should have been the 22nd state to resume school remotely after winter break. However, this was not an option because the governor and state legislature did not reinstate the emergency guidelines from the 2020-2021 school year. In other words, schools were not funded for remote learning and implementing this would result in a loss of revenue.

   According to Fox KTVU, “Legislature passed laws that make it a requirement to consult the California Department of Education and assemble a plan for school closing. […] To receive funding […] requires more staff to be absent than the number of students out.”

   Clearly, high schools, like Gabrielino with upwards of 1500 students and only 70-80 faculty members, would never meet this steep criteria for funding.

   Had the governor called for remote learning across the state, students and staff would have benefitted. Students sick with COVID could have still attended classes, as could students who feel unsafe during the COVID surge. Teachers testing positive could still teach their classes and lessons could have continued uninterrupted for everyone. 

   Gabrielino students petitioned to close the school and begin remote learning as soon as the number of cases rose the week of Jan. 3. The petition, posted on, gathered over 350 signatures but is ultimately useless because the state has not issued funding for remote learning.

   Petitioner Stephan Lee stated, “I value my health and safety along with others. Keeping us in school while there is still an outbreak will just keep the pandemic going longer [than] necessary.”

    After winter break, there should have been at least a two-week period of remote learning mandated for all California school districts. Governor Newsom and the state legislature could have done this. Their failure to act has exacerbated the pandemic and impeded many students’ ability to learn.

   Shame on them.

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January surge was foreseeable, California should have planned for remote learning