Teachers forced to go back to in-person teaching or take a leave of absence, causing student strike


Huntington Beach High School. Photography by: Charlotte Nguyen.

Charlotte Nguyen, Staff

With the new way of online learning and the switch to hybrid instruction, teachers have had to adjust to the changing tides. Back in late December, teachers received an email stating that they must return to in-person teaching by January 5th. If not, they would be forced to take a leave of absence while a substitute teacher teaches the class.

Due to these recent events, about sixty of the 690 teachers from Huntington Beach High School have taken a leave of absence, meaning more than 90 percent of teachers have returned either by choice or by the mandatory requirement, but the remaining less than 10 percent have still not returned to in-person learning because of their personal reasons of concern. 

After the decision made by the district, students have begun voicing their opinions on the matter. The students of HBUHSD have decided to pull together and take action. They have signed a petition, attended board meetings, and even held peaceful protests. The petition alone has already collected 1,100 signatures

Due to these students’ devotion to finding an alternative, they have been helping the HBUHSD board come up with different options and solutions for the teachers. Though nothing has been changed, these students believe that change can come in the future.

Taking the welfare of the faculty into consideration, these students have been very careful to not involve teachers in this organization, making their actions 100 percent student-led. Though their main objective is to support the teachers and offer a safe alternative way of teaching, they wish to keep the teachers’ jobs out of jeopardy. 

So far, these students have spoken at the December 15th and January 12th board meetings and organized a strike on February 3rd. Students took part in the protest by not logging into their meetings and not attending in-person learning.  On February 9th, students showed up an hour and a half early to the district building to peacefully and safely protest. At this protest, even some community members appeared in support of the HBUHSD teachers. 

In the future, students are planning to attend the board meeting on March 9th and peacefully protest, but until then, they are encouraging people to register to vote online to get the requirement of going back to in-person teaching revoked. After all their efforts, these students are hopeful that there will be a change in the foreseeable future. 

One of the leaders of the organization, Bella Brannon, is a student here at HBHS and has spoken out about this topic. Brannon said, “We will do whatever it takes to protect our teachers.” 

Another leader, HBHS student Sam Shaw, said that they have been getting some great outcomes from the protest. “It was a cathartic experience, truly. There were community members and students were there in support,” Shaw said.  

Some individuals of the community believe that the whole point of in-person learning is to interact with other students and teachers. However, other individuals also believe that, due to the different situations of one’s family or medical concerns, additional precautions should be taken into action to protect school staff and those around them.