Change in COVID-19 social distancing from six to three feet could bring back some traditional events for semester’s end

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Brianna Zafra

The revised state social distancing guideline from six to three feet has brought back a sense of normalcy for students who have chosen to come to campus for live instruction four days a week except on Wednesdays. Many are gathering in small groups like this on Tuesday, May 4, during break. Masks, however, are still required, though not while students are eating or drinking a beverage.

Daniel Kong

The story was updated with quotes from the Associated Student Body.

With the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s [CDC] decision to shrink the social distancing guidelines in half from six to three feet, school officials are working on providing more on-campus events like a live assembly.

“We could do something in the quad using the jumbotron,” said principal Allen Whitten, alluding to the last time when the Associated Student Body [ASB] organized an outdoor assembly in the 2017-2018 school year because the gym was being modernized. 

ASB officials confirmed Tuesday, May 4, that a live end-of-the-year assembly is an option.

“We are looking at all options. … Our kids are working hard on producing it,” ASB co-adviser David Fenstermaker wrote in an email interview. “That’s our emphasis right now. If the admin thinks we can safely host something outside, we will work with them and talk about it.”

As for other traditional 12th-grade events like the Paper Toss on the last day of the semester for seniors, Whitten offered the following statement in an email interview: “We are still looking into this option.”

Meanwhile, school officials don’t plan to remove the six-feet social distancing posters throughout the campus even though the CDC had made the change in distancing guidelines March 19 before spring break started.

“We will keep them through the end of the year,” Whitten wrote in an email interview. He did not expand on his reasons for doing so.

Sophomore Ryan Axe agrees with the principal’s decision to keep those distancing signs up.

“I think that the signs are a good reminder that we still need to respect each other’s space,” Axe said.

With Orange County’s rate of positive COVID-19 cases declining each day while more people — including those 16 and over — are being allowed to get vaccinated, the state’s loosening up of its COVID-19 health and safety protocols could benefit Sunny Hills athletes and Grad Nite for seniors.

“With the three feet social distancing regulations, more spectators [for sports games] should be allowed now,” said junior Abby Hahm, who’s on the track and field team. “This is especially exciting because as an athlete, the audience gives me a special type of energy.”

As of April 21, Hahm represents the 137 of 620 juniors who’ve opted to return to campus for live classroom instruction — the junior class remains the fewest to return with the most being from the freshman class.

Because of the CDC’s new guidelines regarding distancing, the Fullerton Joint Union High School District has also moved to allow students beginning April 19 to attend classes four days a week instead of two days only. 

But only more than 25% of the 2,374 enrolled at Sunny Hills are back on campus. 

The decision by many to remain at home could affect what happens to the May 26, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Grad Nite at Anaheim’s Camelot Golfland. The change in the distancing policy has allowed Grad Nite’s organizer, the Parent-Teacher Student Association [PTSA], to also loosen its restrictions for the event.

“Students no longer have to remain in a specific group; but now, they are free to mingle about the facility with their friends,” PTSA Grad Nite committee chairwoman Nivie Jhawar wrote in an email interview. “Masks are still required as is some form of social distancing — but it has lightened up tremendously since we first started planning the event.”

However, the event is in jeopardy of being canceled if the PTSA can’t attract 150 minimum number of seniors. 

Grad Nite fliers were distributed in teachers’ boxes while posters were put up around campus at the start of this week. The main title read: “SAVE YOUR GRAD NIGHT!! … Event is in jeopardy of being cancelled.”

“Our Grad Nite ticket sales have some room for improvement,” Jhawar said. “While we certainly have had some seniors who are super excited about the event, we unfortunately have had some negative press by some kids who don’t think it’s a big deal to convince others to avoid attending the event.”

Grad Nite organizers hope this week’s final push will change more 12th-graders’ minds.

“Our seniors have already lost so much this year and our committee was incredibly set on NOT cancelling yet another event. … We want our seniors to be together and celebrate their graduation together,” Jhawar said. “We want them to be able to create some memories that are fun, despite the tough year they have had.”