HBUHSD Student Strike Speaks Out At HBUHSD Board Meeting


HBHS Students Sam Shaw and Drew Delallana wait to speak at the HBUHSD board meeting on December 15th, 2020. Photography by: Haley Kamola, student at HBHS.

December 15th, 2020, the HBUHSD Board held a meeting the following week after it was announced via email that all teachers were to return to in-person instruction on January 5th or be forced to take a leave of absence indefinitely. 

Since then, the HBUHSD has received large amounts of backlash from students and staff alike as teachers scramble to arrange for their uncertain leave of absence or to alter aspects of their personal lives as they prepare to suddenly return to work, a task that risks exposure to COVID-19. 

The board meeting proved to have a long list of speakers, each allotted the time of three minutes, with most being students and teachers advocating for an alternative to the district’s “forced-return” mandate. Among those delivering their grievances concerning the board’s decision were members of the student formed and run organization known as HBUHSD Student Strike

“[We] have come here today to deplore our district for the recent decision they have made that vehemently disregards the sanctity of human life,” said Drew Dela Llana, a junior at Huntington Beach High School and co-organizer of HBUHSD Student Strike. She gave the opening statement from the organization at the meeting. “We the students are mortified, by these actions that blatantly disrespect the value of our teachers. It is easy for the school board to mandate this decision because you aren’t the teacher forced to choose between heath and your job,” Delallana said. 

Speakers from Huntington Beach High School continued to reiterate their plan to strike from school on January 5th in solidarity with the teachers forced to choose between their health and job. They delivered the following ultimatum: allow teachers who teach online for the safety of themselves and their families to continue to do so, or watch the 160 students who have already pledged to strike, do so. 

“I will not stand back and accept the disrespect aimed at my teachers. Through my work within the HBUHSD Student Strike, as well as my own personal advocacy, I will ensure there is resistance to this decision,” said Sam Shaw, another junior at Huntington Beach High School and organizer of HBUHSD Student Strike. 

After comments were finished, board members proposed points of personal inquiry in which they acknowledged the high volume of speakers against their mandate and claimed to be open to discussion to find and implement a solution that will keep teachers with health concerns in a place of stability. 

“I have no desire to miss school and my five AP classes,” Shaw said as she finished her speech. “However, if it is absolutely necessary I am more than willing to in order to get my teachers’ voices finally heard. This isn’t political, this is rational. You don’t get to play games with people’s lives,” Shaw said.