Staff, students adjust plans in light of school closure

April 16, 2020 — by Harshini Velchamy and Tiffany Wang

As of April 1, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District has extended the closure of all schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This decision was made after governor Gavin Newsom and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, stated that all school campuses in California will not be able to reopen for the rest of the school year. 

Teachers now have to change their curriculum and schedules for the rest of the year to adapt to online learning. For English teacher Matt Granoff, that means cutting down on the amount of work assigned while targeting the most important skills and concepts. He uses a combination of Zoom and Discord, a voice and text chat, to teach his classes. 

“I really like Discord because although it is made for gamers, it allows for a lot of interaction and collaboration,” Granoff said.

Many other teachers, including chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu teach asynchronously and use recorded lectures. Nakamatsu also assigns dry labs, in which students analyze given data, to replace physical labs. 

As of now, most teachers still don’t know how to fairly administer exams.

“I don't think anybody's come up with a solution for remote multiple-choice testing that isn't trivially simple to cheat,” Granoff said.

Instead of tests, Nakamatsu plans on giving her students a performance assessment after each unit, where they submit a video of them doing the project and answering questions. 

Junior Jessie Zhou said she thinks that having online school puts a lot more responsibility on the students and requires them to create a schedule so that their courses and assignments don’t become muddled.

“The first week, it was extra hard to try to follow my school schedule,” Zhou said. “I eventually settled into following a decent schedule, and I think I’m starting to get used to it.” 

Besides having online classes, the closure of the school has also prompted the cancellation of all events.

“We are exploring ways to either postpone or do virtual alternatives for graduation, prom, Senior Awards Night, CSF and whatever else we can do,” assistant principal Matt Torrens said. “Graduation is the biggest concern so we are putting together a survey for the students and parents to fill out to help guide our planning.”

In the coming weeks, teachers and administrators will regularly communicate with students and parents about any updates as the school adjusts to these unprecedented times.