SAN BENITO, Calif. (KION) The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many students hard emotionally, socially and academically, as more and more high school seniors are in danger of not graduating because of failing grades.
The Class of 2021 has already had to face many changes to the school year. But for some, the pandemic has been especially hard.
"We've had a lot of families who have had immediate family members who have died, we've also had several who have been quarantined and have had long-term effects, many who had to go into the work force," said Elaine Klauer, the director of educational services at the San Benito High School District. "And then I would say the largest majority is high school students who are taking care of their siblings."
Data shows 14 percent of seniors at San Benito High School are in danger of not graduating at all -- that's up double from pre-pandemic times.
"Some of them even doubled up taking two classes during the day, two classes in the evening. And these students are still not passing," said Klauer.
Now, the school district is offering some help. They are allowing close to 90 seniors out of over 700 to opt-in to a reduced credit track to graduate: 190 credits instead of the default 220.
The district says they have always had three credit tracks, namely the default 220, 190 for students with special circumstances and 130 for students who have been homeless or rehabilitated.
The 190-credit track was not available to all seniors before, but the board decided to allow it this year because of the pandemic's challenges on many students.
Those who opt in can waive either 30 elective credits, or 20 elective credits and 10 content area credits like science, math and English. But they are not able to exceed the state graduation requirements for those content areas.
"I feel like a lot of people were affected mentally, emotionally… based of the pandemic that happened," said Jimmy Moran, a senior at San Benito High who is not part of the credit reduction program. "I feel like a lot of people fell of the bandwagon and I feel like it's a really good opportunity to let them go."
As far as this credit reduction will impact college chances, the district says CSUs and UCs actually accept 190 credits, but it also depends on the credits the student takes, especially for subjects like English, science and math.
"If a student's transcripts show that they have taken the necessary credits in each of those disciplines, they could actually get into a CSU or UC," said Klauer.