Covid-19 has taken a toll on students, both mentally and physically.  Forced to stay cooped up in a bedroom while you struggle to understand the overwhelming piles of assignments each week has done no good for the students of Costa Mesa High School. The negative effects of the pandemic have been showing throughout social media, where students are expressing their concerns of whether or not they’ll make it through the coming semesters. 

But, we have to wonder, is the stress really getting to students and affecting them academically? CMHS principal Jacob Haley believes “the lasting effects of a year of distance learning will be two-fold, with both some negative and positive outcomes.” He notes that students have suffered great loss when it comes to their education both last year and this year that may result in the coming courses, both high school and college, to be difficult due to limited class periods and the amount of weeks off of school. On a more positive note, Dr. Haley believes that students have gained “the self-reliance and independence that all students have been forced to reflect and refine over the past year to become resourceful with online tools and truly take ownership of their learning and understanding.”

Keeping this in mind, the expectation of students being able to handle their educational situation has students questioning whether or not we will see some compensation for failing classes or lower grades due to the stress of the global pandemic. While some students and parents are requesting such compensation, Dr. Haley does not believe California will provide. In response to the doubt of a safety net for struggling students, CMHS has been establishing some things to benefit students. “We went from having two-credit recovery classes to six-credit recovery classes, we are embedding 8-sections into the master schedule this spring to help with students--mostly grade 9--who failed a MESH [Math, English, Science, and History] course first semester, and we really have focused on trying to be proactive to support student learning by focusing on the whole student.  We also offer summer school for Algebra I and Geometry to allow students to focus on just a single content area,” says Haley. 

Along with this, he adds that in the 2019-2020 school year, the Newport Mesa School District board introduced an adjusted grading system for the Spring semester, with an A being 85-100%, a B 70-84%, a C 55-69% and “incomplete” a 54% and below. Fortunately, this is not where the benefits end. Haley says, “the Newport Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education [lowered] the graduation requirements from 230 credits to 220 credits--the state number is 190-credits--eliminating 10-elective credits for the classes of [2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023].  As a principal group we are discussing a potential need to look at adjusting credits for the class of [2024].” 

Overall, this pandemic has brought many negative and positives to light. “The negative impacts for sure are some areas of learning loss for some students as it relates to state standards in Math, English, Science, & History (MESH) courses. These impacts will continue as there is the potential for gaps in understanding which will make the next course in high school or college more difficult because of some potential gaps. The positive outcomes do help to replace some of the negative impacts, so I am hopeful that they will balance each other out.  A positive outcome is the self-reliance and independence that all students have been forced to reflect and refine over the past year to become resourceful with online tools and truly take ownership of their learning and understanding.”