Parents, Students and Faculty Weigh In On District Communication


Bia Shok

IUSD communicates with parents, teachers and staff primarily through Instagram posts and emails.

Justin Tang and Ryan Jung

Stay-at-home orders and closures of schools caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made online communication more important than ever. As students who opted for the hybrid learning model begin their first days of in-person learning on September 24-25, the Irvine Unified School District’s (IUSD) efforts to clearly inform faculty, students and parents will be put to the test.

Though IUSD’s messaging is frequently updated to follow county and state guidelines, opinions on its effectiveness remain mixed.

For teachers and administrators who receive regular internal email updates from Portola High’s mailing list, clear correspondence is key to establishing an effective learning environment for students. Assistant principal Jennifer Ochsner assures that that is the case.

“I think the communication [teachers] have gotten from the district is as clear as it can be,” Ochsner said. “I’m confident that there are a lot of good protocols in place… but of course, there’s a lot of unknowns right now, so I understand there’s a lot of anxiety from a lot of people about returning.”

Similar mailing lists administered by IUSD and Portola High share timely information with parents regarding protocols for students. However, Rashimi Kini, who is the PTSA president and mother of junior Maya Vanek, expressed concerns about the length of IUSD’s emails, which may hinder parents from reading them in full.

“The emails that they send out are kind of long, and I read them… but I know a lot of people don’t do that,” Kini said. “Even parents aren’t that thorough.”

Other than emails, students and parents receive information through Portola-High-affiliated Instagram accounts. Despite these efforts, junior Celine Aoki believes these posts are redundant.

“Instagram pages, I usually went to. My mom would get some emails, but she would usually tell me stuff I’d seen from an Instagram page,” Aoki said.

Students who are less connected to the district’s communication still harbor doubts about returning to campus.

“I’m kind of anxious about it,” junior Stella Jung said. “I don’t really have a direct source… I think there needs to be another way [IUSD] can directly speak to us or message us.”

Junior Anne Wu feels more confident about the transition to in-person learning after closely following COVID-related news in the district.

“I felt like they did a good job of communicating… I checked the IUSD Instagram a lot, and I also checked my email [for] weekly emails about COVID updates,” Wu said.