Students required to wear masks indoors only – one of a few new changes for 2021-2022 Fullerton Joint Union High School District COVID-19 health and safety guidelines

In+preparation+for+the+first+day+of+school%2C+math+teacher+Cristian+Bueno+posts+a+sign+Aug.+13+to+remind+students+of+proper+hand+hygiene+in+Room+65.+The+poster%2C+along+with+another+one+about+indoor+masking%2C+was+provided+by+the+Fullerton+Joint+Union+High+School+District+as+part+of+its+health+and+safety+guidelines+for+the+2021-2022+school+year.

Rebekah Kim

In preparation for the first day of school, math teacher Cristian Bueno posts a sign Aug. 13 to remind students of proper hand hygiene in Room 65. The poster, along with another one about indoor masking, was provided by the Fullerton Joint Union High School District as part of its health and safety guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year.

Nevya Patel

In a change to summer health and safety protocols, students returning to Sunny Hills for the 2021-2022 school year will only be required to wear a mask indoors, while dances and assemblies will be encouraged to be held outdoors.

“Masks will be required for students and staff while indoors and will be optional while outside as specified by [Orange County and state health officials],” said principal Allen Whitten during a Google Slide presentation last week to the Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD] board about what the school site procedures will entail.

Whitten touted the importance of establishing a routine with students coming to all six FJUHSD campuses, citing his experience from the health and safety protocols initiated during hybrid learning in the 2020-2021 school year and the subsequent two summer school sessions.

“So we learned last year [and] in the summer that our students are great at following the routines once they know the expectations,” Whitten told trustees during their Aug. 10 meeting. “They went above and beyond, really [exceeding] our expectations of them in dealing with all of the new protocols.”

District officials including Whitten emphasized that the new health and safety guidelines for this school year are based on two major county and state agencies – the same ones they have been adhering to since the coronavirus pandemic started in March 2020:

  • Orange County Health Care Agency
  • California Department of Public Health.

To remind students about the continual indoor mask mandates – especially for those who never came to campus during hybrid learning or summer school – signs will be posted outside and inside classrooms, Buena Park principal Sonje Berg told the board. 

Besides the Monday-Friday Qualtrics survey that all staff and students have to fill out before entering campus and having their temperatures scanned at one central entry point, Berg announced a new Monday-Friday email health reminder for students as well. 

“In addition to the Qualtrics — because that’s that kind of self-check — it’s also, ‘Hey, you know what? If you’re not feeling well, just don’t come,” Berg said. “You know, don’t come to school; take a day – you know, let’s see how things progress because we’re just going to err on the side of safety with this.”

One final protocol that Berg addressed was the issue about traditional school events like dances and assemblies, both of which have been non-existent since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

“We’re going to try and do as much as we can outside. … [like] some of the dances we’ve done before where we’ve fenced off big areas, and we’ve had dances outside,” he said. “Big assemblies we want to try to do outside, and so just anything that we can do to just kind of add that extra safety precaution especially as we move into opening school – that’s always going to be better.” 

As of today, Aug. 16, the Sunny Hills Associated Student Body, however, still plans to hold its double Period 2 welcome back assembly in the gym on Friday, Aug. 20. No additional details were available as of press time.

Meanwhile, the daily routine for all SH students and staff before entering the school includes the completion of the online Qualtrics survey, which has been reduced from 12 to two questions, and temperature checks with thermal energy cameras in the hallway between the 20s wing and administrative offices. 

PUBLIC COMMENTS A NO-SHOW

Unlike many of the board meetings held during the 2020-2021 school year, the August one that was held live in the district board room did not have anyone appear to make statements to trustees during the Public Comments section on the agenda.

According to an Aug. 2 Orange County Register online article, a group called, “Let Them Breathe,” has organized rallies outside Orange and Tustin unified school districts in support of parents who prefer their child remain maskless in the classroom. That group was a no-show.

But those districts have middle school and elementary students – the primary concern for some parents regarding the mask issue.

Trustees also chose not to follow what board members from Capistrano, Placentia-Yorba Linda and Saddleback Valley unified districts have done – to formally appeal to state health officials to lift all mask orders on campus.

Board president Marilyn Buchi instead closed the discussion with this statement: 

“I’d like to just say thank you to the team once again. Once again I’m reminded how fortunate [the students are] in this district for the care that you take not only for their educational advancement, [but] for their physical health as well. So thank you so much, appreciate it.”

UPDATES ON OTHER COVID-19-RELATED PROCEDURES

Following the latest state health department update on Aug. 2, the district will continue the contact tracing and documentation of any symptomatic, exposed or confirmed COVID-19 cases, lead district nurse Ynette Johnson told board members. 

In the case that any facility has a person with COVID-19 within the last 24 hours, all space occupied by that individual has to be cleaned and disinfected, she said.

“[We are] advising staff members and students with any symptoms of COVID-19 infection not to return to in-person instruction or work until they have met the [county and state health] return-to-school criteria,” Johnson said. 

Two types of quarantine have been implemented: the 10-day quarantine and the modified quarantine. 

With the modified quarantine option, students can either return to school fully masked and tested negative every three days in the 10 day period after exposure or receive a negative test on the fifth day and return on the eighth day of quarantine, as adopted by the CDPH and OCHCA, while fully vaccinated and asymptomatic students do not have to quarantine. 

The only questions trustees had about the presentation were for the nurse regarding quarantine procedures.

Trustee Joanne Fawley, who represents students and parents in the Sunny Hills area, wanted the lead nurse to explain more about how modified quarantine will work. Then she asked about COVID-19 vaccinations in hopes of informing parents who might be watching the meeting.

“Does vaccination status affect any of those rules?” Fawley asked.

If students are vaccinated and asymptomatic, they do not need to follow the 10-day quarantine procedure, Johnson replied.

District officials also addressed another COVID-19 prevention: the promotion of hand hygiene. 

“We’ve printed large posters that continue to be posted at our school sites and district facilities,” La Habra High School assistant principal Manny Macias said. “We’ll continue to increase the amount of visuals around our campuses and district facilities to ensure that they encourage individuals to wash their hands thoroughly and continually throughout the day.”

To find out how some students and teachers reacted to the 2021-2022 COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, be sure to read Accolade social media manager Susie Kim’s article.