BREAKING NEWS: School closure impacts Tahoma community as it prepares for virtual school

By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson, Max Taniguchi King and Polina Runova

Staff Editors

It has been announced that all Santa Clara County schools including Summit Public School: Tahoma will be closed starting Monday, March 16. Beginning Tuesday, students at Summit Tahoma are going to attend virtual school as the community deals with COVID-19. 

Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart has already been preparing for students to adjust to virtual school: “We’re shifting from an actual school to a virtual school, and part of enrolling in a virtual school means you have the technology components. Today in mentor groups we are making sure that everyone’s going home with a Chromebook and a charger and so forth.”

Student lunches are an additional issue as a result of the school closure. 

During virtual school, Mr. Stewart is preparing to provide food to students who rely on school-provided lunches. “We do have a rough plan right now to still have food delivery and still have food service for students who need them.” He went on to say that the logistics for this would be determined this Monday.

Meanwhile, teachers at Tahoma are preparing for virtual school as well.

Douglas Wills, a math teacher at Tahoma, has been trying to determine what to do to support students. “I gotta figure out how I’m gonna make my class as effective as possible given the scenario,” he said. 

The news of school closure is not surprising in wake of other Summit changes, such as the cancellation of study trips. Oak Grove High School has also been affected by the virus. Three Oak Grove students have been in contact with family members who have COVID-19.

Students at Tahoma have mixed views on Summit leadership’s reaction to the pandemic. Tahoma junior Anja Azizaj disagreed with an email sent to students and parents. “We were told in an email, ‘Oh, we don’t have contact [with Oak Grove students], it’s fine; school is still open,’” Azizaj said. “Which is irresponsible on the part of faculty because they do realize that students do tend to skip lunch or go to the Oak Grove campus.”

Azizaj continued to voice her concerns that Tahoma teachers also visit Oak Grove’s campus and that she feels these interactions place Tahoma at additional risk of the virus.

Fellow Tahoma junior Kainoa Garo has spent the previous four days at home due to an illness, and he feels Summit’s reaction was appropriate. “I think they’re doing a good job; they are pretty open to having students stay home and they’re pretty aware of where the virus is spreading,” he explained.

Mr. Stewart explains he is basing school decisions on county guidelines. “We are taking guidance from the county health department and also from the CDC. The way I think of the county department is they are making the best decisions so they can protect the entire county,” he said.

Mr. Stewart is pleased with the way the community has responded to the outbreak. “I respect the courage that our school community has shown through what is a really challenging time and in a way it makes me really proud to be part of Tahoma.”

Featured image (at the top of this post): Students will be using Google Hangouts as part of virtual school. PHOTO CREDIT: Max Taniguchi-King

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