Irvine High School reopens for on-campus instruction


Image via Natalie Mao

Irvine High School (IHS) officially reopened last Thursday implementing safety guidelines established by the California Department of Public Health, OC Department of Education and the Orange County Public Health (OCPH). 

All IHS students will attend in-person classes in two different cohorts. Those with last names A-Le are in the Green Cohort, while students with last names Li-Z are in the Blue Cohort. Green Cohort students are in-person Tuesdays and Thursdays while those in the Blue Cohort are in-person Wednesdays and Fridays. All odd classes will continue to be held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while even classes will be held on Thursdays and Fridays. 

“We are excited to showcase how much we’ve done for [students] to be confident for every school day and to prevent any worries when coming to school,” Assistant Principal Chris Nguyen said. “[Principal Monica] Colunga has walked through every single classroom with our team to make sure that we have everything ready to go. We spare no expense for the safety of our students and staff.”  

Prior to returning to school, students were shown an introductory video in advisement that established expectations they must follow on campus, such as wearing masks at all times and following signs determining the direction of travel and number of students allowed in an area. All classrooms are equipped with medical-grade air filters and hand sanitizers. Students can still buy lunch to-go and those who do not have a period 7 or 8 are expected to leave campus. 

“Schools must provide meaningful instruction during this pandemic whether they’re physically open or not,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a recent press conference when he unveiled his new color-coded tier system for tracking the number of new coronavirus cases per county. “We all prefer in-classroom instruction for all the obvious reasons, but only if it can be done safely. Learning is non-negotiable.”

All administration, custodial staff and teachers received training on September 21-22 prior to reopening. Teachers are having to adjust their teaching styles to accommodate hybrid learning and figuring out how to keep all students moving forward in curriculum and taking advantage of the minimal allotted class time. 

“The ambiguity of what to do and when was hard for people,” science teacher Joseph Elmasri said, reflecting on last school year’s emergency distance learning. “The introduction of mandatory lessons, tests and submissions dates is the biggest thing I’ve implemented to help keep everyone on task. This school year, it’s important to have organized and clear expectations.” 

If a student begins displaying COVID-19 symptoms at school, they will be admitted into an isolation room and encouraged to schedule a date to get tested. If the test is positive, the district office will be notified and the OCPH will begin an investigation to trace who the student has come into contact with. 

“I’m extremely excited to go back on campus because I will get to see all of my friends and teachers. I miss face to face learning and connecting with others on campus.” junior Sarah Neddersen said. “It’s just going to be an interesting time and I think most things will have to adapt and change along the way.” 

IHS will provide students with masks, gloves and sanitary wipes every morning at the safety tent, near the flagpole, if they need one. Before leaving for school, students are encouraged to do self-checks for fevers, shortness of breath and fatigue, all common symptoms of COVID-19. For more information regarding symptoms and how to conduct self checks refer to this link: