Silver Valley Schools respond to novel Coronavirus

(Photos courtesy of Silver Unified School District)

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — On Apr. 1, Silver Valley Unified School District’s superintendent announced that the district will continue with an online, distance learning model and keep its doors closed through the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Jesse Najera said he was disappointed but, “I want our families to know that every Silver Valley Unified School District employee is committed to helping our students successfully navigate this new way of learning.”

Officials with the District say they’ve been proactive in making the community’s health and safety their highest priority during the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

The district put out their first communication about the virus during the week of March 9th and on Mar. 13, initially decided to extend their spring break and close their doors through Mar. 27. On Mar. 19, as the situation progressed, the district announced schools would be closed through at least May 1.

There were no suspected nor confirmed cases within SVUSD when the district decided to close but the superintended said they decided to act with caution and remain ahead of a potential outbreak.

The district has been working to ensure there is no lapse in learning for its students. Packets of educational resources and worksheets were either available through teachers, at the respective schools, school websites and/or the school liaison.

On Mar. 21 the district distributed a survey to parents as they worked to design a distance learning module. The survey was an effort to evaluate the technology needs of its students and families during the closure, to continue to provide quality educational lessons and experiences. The survey assisted teachers and staff in building a high-quality online instructional platform for students. It asked questions like “What type of technology is your child using at home to access the Internet?” and “Does your student have internet access at home and, if so, what kind.”

The district wanted to meet the meal needs of its students, so on Mar. 16, they began serving grab and go breakfast and lunch meals for any student under 18 years old at Tiefort View Intermediate, Yermo Elementary and Newberry Elementary School from 10a.m. – 12p.m. In just one week, SVUSD served more than 5,400 meals.

Seniors Missing Out?

Many adults can remember how special their senior year of high school was to them. Prom, SATs, senior photos, the senior trip, homecoming and, of course, graduation, are just a few of the memories you have for a lifetime.

With many proms and graduations being canceled across the nation, Fort Irwin’s Silver Valley High School students had an historic senior year still looming.

Just before learning about the district closing the school buildings, senior student, Eileen Galinger said she wouldn’t be happy about school being suspended through the end of the school year.

“I would honestly be really upset if I didn’t get to walk down the aisle and get my diploma,” she said. “I worked really hard for this. My dad already PCS’ed (permanent change of station) to Maryland and my parents decided for my dad to go before us so I could stay and graduate and now I feel like we were separated for nothing.”

When it comes to prom, Galinger was looking forward to making memories.

“I will also be upset missing out on prom. I hear all the stories my parents tell us and I feel like it’s a rite of passage.”

Galinger said what she’d miss most is their last, senior school field trip to Six Flags with her friends. Kat Pacheco said she’d miss the sporting events.

She has been a homeschool student and already taking college classes since she was 16, so she said not much is different for her.

“I’ve been to prom multiple times, I’ve been to a lot of dances,” Pacheco said. “Everything’s going the same.”

Galinger is not happy about the way the school year may end and said her friends feel the same way.

“They are upset because senior year was supposed to be one to remember,” she said.

As a homeschool student, Pacheco said she doesn’t completely agree but said her friends have similar sentiments.

“A few days ago, I saw one of my friends getting really, really upset because ‘senior year is being ripped away,’” Pacheco said.

To lift some 12th grade students’ (and parents’) spirits, one Fort Irwin spouse and professional photographer offered discounted senior pictures.

“I’m sure we are all upset about being stuck on base and schools being out,” Demetria Friday posted in the Fort Irwin Connection Facebook group page. “I wanted to do a special for seniors of $50 dollar graduation sessions.”

After the district’s Apr. 1 announcement, Superintendent Najera said his staff understands this is a major disruption to families but they will continue to assist as needed and keep everyone informed.

“I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through as we work through this unprecedented situation,” Najera said. “Together, we will get through this.”