Rough start for on-campus learning, students break safety protocol


Madison Geering

A marked off path during textbook pick-up at the start of the pandemic. Some of the first students to return to campus in the 2020-2021 school year were ASB officers like ASB Vice President and senior Sean Murphy.

Madison Geering and Lucia Rivera

Amidst the sea of initialed tiles in a synchronous Google Meets class on Oct. 30, students were given a window into the Bonita Vista High (BVH) Associated Student Body (ASB) office. Three ASB officers, cameras on, were seen within six feet of distance from each other, two of whom shared a camera frame. 

At points during the class session, their masks hung from their necks, unused.

Assistant Principal of Student Activities and ASB Adviser Christopher Alvarez stated that he was “probably not” aware at the time that students were not following protocol.

This violation of on-campus safety protocols occurred before the Nov. 5 start of small groups of struggling students, or cohorts, returning for on-campus instruction. Four individual sources reported to the Crusader that the ASB President, Vice President and Attorney General were seen breaking protocol on multiple occasions, describing feeling “curious” and “shocked” but not reacting “too harshly.”

BVH principal Roman Del Rosario, Ed.D, reported being unaware of ASB student presence on campus until the Crusader requested an interview on the subject on Nov. 15. On the next day, Nov. 16, Del Rosario had a conversation with Alvarez regarding student presence on campus. In situations of conflict, Del Rosario “assumes positive intent” of all staff members, understanding that their communication is harder during the pandemic.

“When I discover that [their actions] aren’t based on my interpretation, I see it as my role to educate and then conform to what the expectations are. It’s not too different than what I do every day, even without a pandemic,” Del Rosario said.

Thus, on Nov. 16 Del Rosario established an official 14-person cohort of ASB students, approved first by Del Rosario’s supervisor, that would be permitted to work on campus in groups of two or three each day. These students will be expected to follow the same safety procedures outlined for all SUHSD individuals on campus. 

“I know that we have had mistakes where [students] are not socially distanced,” Alvarez said. “We’ve corrected the problem. We’re all human. We have to learn, but now they know [to properly wear a] face mask. Safety is the number one priority.”

One of the students not observing social distancing, ASB Vice President and senior Sean Murphy was willing to speak to the Crusader. Prior to coming on campus, Murphy and his parents signed consent forms provided by the BVH administration for all students returning to campus.


2017-2018 Associated Student Body Senior Finance Commissioners Kelly Murphy and Milla Padilla file fundraising information onto the computer as tasked by ASB Financial Technician Leona Jazmin. In pre-pandemic years ASB members could conduct ASB finances during normal school hours in the ASB office, although the process has been complicated by the pandemic. (Marc Yanofsky)

“[Breaking protocol] was a mistake that I made. It was definitely a learning experience for me. I take responsibility for my actions. It’s not anyone else’s fault. Mr. Alvarez can’t be breathing down my neck all day to make sure I’m doing what’s right,” Murphy said. “Going forward, it’s not going to happen again. It was a mistake; we all make them.”

In addition to the instance of improper protocol among ASB students, Del Rosario also reported staff and students from other cohorts needing reminders to follow protocol while on campus. 

“I think that I see it everywhere, and it’s not okay,” Del Rosario said. “I think that we’re so close to the end of this pandemic, knock on wood, that what we have to do is just keep reminding ourselves [to follow protocol]. I need to keep reminding my staff, and the staff needs to keep reminding students and people need to keep reminding me. We get relaxed with these expectations and we just need to keep reminding ourselves.”

The Associated Student Body building decorated with an “ASB” sign in the 2017-2018 school year. Some of the first students to return to campus in the 2020-2021 school year were ASB officers like ASB Vice President and senior Sean Murphy. (Lucia Rivera)

To counter this issue, BVH administrators like Del Rosario and Alvarez use vocal reminders to emphasize the importance of following COVID-19 guidelines. 

“We’re all in a learning environment. We’re trying to practice our COVID-19 safety protocol. Any adolescent out there [has] to be reminded, and I’m just going to keep forcing those reminders,” Alvarez said.

When asked what measures exist moving forward to ensure students adhere to safety guidelines while on campus, Alvarez described protocols being “just like rules of the school, [where] you have to make sure that [students] abide, they have to understand, they have to learn.” 

If a student were to refuse, Alvarez explained, they would be escorted off campus. However, neither Alvarez nor Del Rosario encountered that as of Nov. 24, despite the 40 BVH students officially participating in hybrid learning and 62 staff members working onsite as of Dec. 9, according to the SUHSD School Reopening Dashboard

BVH did, however, report its first non-sports related COVID-19 case on Dec. 3, a few days after SUHSD announced the second semester will begin virtually. Despite this, and San Diego County’s recently increased restrictions, cohorts resumed on-campus activity on Dec. 7. The ASB is the only student organization with a current cohort, although other students reported their organizations would benefit from access to campus. 

BVH students such as senior Dillan Busk, who witnessed the break in protocol by ASB members would also “love to go to school and have a small group of people in person” but is “not sure it’s the best decision to open that option” to all students. As a peer tutor for BVH’s Tutor Educate and Motivate (T.E.A.M.) Tutoring program that has been paused since March, Busk also recognized how other student organizations besides the ASB could benefit from being on campus. Despite this, he echoed Del Rosario’s sentiment regarding further return to campus. 

“I think in their heart, students are ready to come back and see their teachers face to face and hang out with their friends at lunch and at the sporting events and other activities,” Del Rosario said. “Right now it’s not the time. It’s not safe to come back, but I definitely believe that the vast majority of students are ready.”

This piece was updated on Dec. 14, 2020.