PYLUSD and the Coronavirus


Rich Pedroncelli, via Associated Press

When Governor Gavin Newsom ordered Californians to remain at home, New York Times describes it as the “most drastic measure” of any state governor to suppress the Coronavirus.

Emily Eslao, Photojournalist

Schools pose a significant health risk to the population, as the Coronavirus is “spread mainly” through “person-to-person contact” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Infected respiratory droplets are more likely to contact others in large gatherings, endangering schools such as YLHS with a population of almost two thousand students. 

In an attempt to hamper the spread of coronavirus, schools across the United States continue to close; one of the earliest to make the transition was schools of the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD). 

Dr. Greg Plutko, superintendent of PYLUSD, addresses that the district’s decisions are made “in the mindset” of assuring “the health… of the community.” Students of Yorba Linda can be confident that their district is taking great lengths to maintain health and functionality.

PYLUSD is working with the districts of California to provide an example for the rest of the country. All schools of PYLUSD officially closed as of March 13. With all the commotion surrounding events of the Coronavirus, it did not come as a complete surprise when first announced to students in the PA. Just a week later, the decision was validated by California Governor, Gavin Newsom. Governor Newsom made a public health announcement, advising all individuals in California to “stay at their place of residence,” other than for “essentials” (PYLUSD).

Initially, YLHS was scheduled to reopen on March 30 giving students and staff a two-week break. However, the date was extended to April 24 in response to rising Coronavirus rates in the United States. These dates are not set, however, and the district’s latest update on coronavirus states that “the district will continue to monitor circumstances” to “determine if additional precautionary steps are necessary” (PYLUSD). 

In fact, many students were excited or even ecstatic about the break. “When the school announced it would be closing, I felt happy at first,” says Jasper Liu (9), “…But then my happiness turned into sadness that I wouldn’t see my friends as much.”

The weeks in between could not actually be considered a break. In line with Governor Newsom’s order, education remains an essential service. Aside from spring break, students have and will continue to receive instruction through a term called “distance learning.” PYLUSD coined the term when referring to “anytime a student and teacher are not in the same location during the learning period.” Students receive material and continue to learn, through a digital process.

Popular methods of YLHS teachers are Zoom for online sessions and Google Classroom as an online platform. Assignments and/or tests/quizzes are submitted digitally, as PYLUSD says includes “online instruction, television, and external resources.”

Even during this quarantine, PYLUSD continues to offer free meals for students 18 and under. “Grab-and-go” breakfasts and lunches are available to families on Mondays through Fridays from 9am to 11am. Four sites participate in the free program: Melrose Elementary School, Rio Vista Elementary School, Ruby Drive Elementary School, and Topaz Elementary School (PYLUSD).

All decisions have been guided by the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) and Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to ensure everyone’s safe return. In his latest Coronavirus update, Superintendent Plutko states that “a potential return date” would “represent the hope we all carry… to be back together at our school sites.”