District sends eleventh-hour notice changing online learning start date from Monday, March 16, to Wednesday, March 18


This Aeries communication email was sent to parents and students at 7:40 p.m. March 15, followed by another one sent at 8:50 p.m. containing a much shorter message and informing readers to go to the Fullerton Joint Union High School District website to access the superintendent’s letter in a PDF file. Students remain uncertain, though, as to how their teachers will take Aeries attendance when distance learning begins Wednesday, March 18.

After a Friday, March 13, email from Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD] superintendent Scott Scambray that Sunny Hills will be closed to students and that they would have to be educated online starting Monday, March 16, district officials changed their minds in a Sunday, March 15, evening email stating that distance learning will begin on the third day of the week — subtracting two days’ worth of instruction before spring break starts.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus threat, “all FJUHSD Schools will be closed to students and parents beginning tomorrow, March 16,” according to an Aeries communication email sent March 15 at 8:50 p.m.

The notice referred readers to the district website, fjuhsd.org, for “further information.”

“These are unprecedented times for the FJUHSD and every other district throughout our county and state,” Scambray wrote in a March 15 letter posted as a PDF file on the district website and addressed to parents, guardians and students. “District administration has participated in daily conference calls with the County Superintendent and other OC District leadership teams. As you can imagine, issues relating to the Coronavirus are changing rapidly.”

Although distance learning will now start on the third day of the week instead of Monday, Scambray goes on in the letter to tell students that they “may login to Google Classroom beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 in order to view a brief message from each of their teachers regarding distance learning, which will begin Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

“Beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and each day thereafter, all teachers will post to Google Classroom instructional lessons for each period they teach. Teachers will be accessible through email and Google Classroom to assist students and answer student questions. Students will need to login into their Google Classroom accounts on a daily basis in order to access and complete the lessons provided by each of their teachers.”

Scambray’s letter did not mention anything about required attendance and having to follow the bell schedule from home, like the email notice principal Allen Whitten sent after school last Friday to “Lancer Nation,” in which Whitten wrote, “Classes will meet every day on-line according to the student’s normal daily schedule.”

That left several students more worried as to how Aeries attendance will be taken.

“I’m relieved we’re starting school on Wednesday since that means more time to rest and work,” junior Elizabeth Tamayo said. “But that leaves three days of school before spring break, which is a bit confusing.”

Science teacher Andrew Gartner took to posting information to his students Sunday night after the district’s release of information for how the week of March 16 will be handled by educators.

“What our online instruction will look like is still being put together, and I will give you all more information about that as we get closer to Wednesday,” Gartner wrote in his Google Classroom posting on March 15 at 10:22 p.m. “Until then, enjoy these two days off while we teachers get ourselves prepared to work with you online. I know you’re all dying to do some great [Advanced Placement Environmental Science] work from the comfort of your own homes, but Wednesday will be here before you know it.”

Scambray’s letter concludes reminding parents and students that the coronavirus situation — with the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times reporting, as of March 15, 17 cases in Orange County, 335 cases in California and 3,499 cases in the United States — remains fluid, which could lead to other changes in the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

“At this time, students are scheduled to return to school after Spring Break, on Monday, March 30, 2020; however, this may change and we must remain flexible,” the superintendent wrote. “We remain committed to ensuring the continuity of instruction through the use of distance learning, while we also maintain the safety of our students and staff members.”