Confirmed: Nohum to Stay Closed Remainder of School Year

Fiona Murphy, Editor-in-Chief

April 3rd, 2020

The Northern Humboldt Union High School District will be closed for the remainder of the school year due to the threat of COVID-19. Following advice from local and state officials, Superintendent Roger Macdonald sent out an email to district families on Friday, April 3rd. 

“We are officially, unless things dramatically change for the better, closing the facility and will finish the year with distance learning,” he said in an interview with Pepperbox. 

This announcement came after the first three weeks of the district closure and after two weeks of distance learning. The district is working to iron out confusion and problems arising from the implementation of distance learning, including lack of internet or devices. 

“It’s been a challenge because we are building the bridge as we walk across it,” Macdonald explained.

Before the school closure, the district started gathering data on which students needed technological support and worked to supply them with internet and computers. Macdonald asks that anyone having a difficult time with distance learning contact the district. The district is also working to provide more professional development in the realm of distance learning to teachers. There will be a written guideline for distance learning out next week. 

Barring a miracle, Northern Humboldt schools will remain closed until next year.
Fiona Murphy/Pepperbox

Arcata High Social Studies teacher Adam Pinkerton is working to prepare his Advanced Placement students for the exam which takes place in April. So far, he has adjusted well thanks to technological support from the district, but the change isn’t unnoticed. 

“I am worried about my students getting confused by assignments [or] my instructions, and/or overwhelmed with everything going on in the world,” he said.

Macdonald emphasized how proud he is of district teachers and their efforts to tackle distance learning as well as supporting students who are struggling in a challenging time. The district is working to provide support to students with difficult family situations or declining mental health.

“Everyone in our district understands the importance of doing well for our students and community,” he said, “We have a responsibility not just to make sure you graduate but to make sure we are supporting you throughout this time.”

Because of the upheaval, students received some leeway with classwork and participation. For this term, students were not held accountable for lack of participation. 

“Going forward into the sixth term our students will have to participate to get the credit, but we are super understanding of our family situations,” Macdonald said. 

The school district is not currently ready to cancel graduation. They have yet to cancel contractors and plan to have graduation if it is safe to do so. However, they are also planning to work with students to create an alternative if that is necessary. 

Despite this, closing schools for the rest of the year is a blow to many students. High school seniors are grappling with losing their last season of a sport, senior prom, the chance to say goodbye and possibly graduation. 

“I can’t even put into words the emotions I feel, everything I have looked forward to my whole life taken in the span of 24 hours,” McKinleyville High Senior and student board representative Martiza Solano said, “We had so much coming up these next few months, things we have been putting hours and hours of work into since freshman year. Our last months together and we don’t even get that.”

Teachers are also mourning the loss of the last few months with their students. 

“I am very saddened to know that I will not be seeing my seniors for the rest of the school year.  The best part of teaching is working with students and getting to talk to them each day,” Pinkerton said.

Despite her grief, Solano expressed gratitude for the health of her friends and family and offered a message of hope.

“What we can do right now is congratulate each other on [college] acceptances, thank one another for the memories and hope for some positive news,” Solano said.