Students walk out due to COVID-19 concerns at Redondo Union High School

This morning, students led a walkout to protest the school’s COVID-19 policies. But not everyone had good intentions.


Photo by Elizabeth Petrey

Junior Sam Miller read her speech, but was unable to be heard above the crowd’s shouts. “To the school district, I’d like you think of who your institution is founded off of, which is students, and how you are continuously ignoring them and choosing not to listen to their voices,” she said.

A news helicopter hovering above the Student Union captured hundreds of students marching out of their classrooms today. 

What the helicopters didn’t catch, however, was the Playboi Carti music blasting from one student’s speaker, or the American flag with Nicki Minaj’s face plastered on it waving in the wind.

What began as a walkout against RUHS not providing a virtual learning option, given that about 15% of RUHS is currently infected with COVID-19, quickly turned chaotic. Junior Julian Quay described it as a “mobocracy.”

A student stands in the middle of a crowd that turned from a COVID-19 policy protest to a party scene. (Photo by Elizabeth Petrey)

The Instagram account @ruhscovid, run by an anonymous student, organized the walkout. They argued that action is necessary due to “the insane amount of new COVID-19 cases at RUHS” and what they claim to be a “reckless” response by RUHS administration, according to an Instagram story posted to the account. 

In their latest moves to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, RUHS administration handed out free COVID-19 testing kits to every student. Teachers are also now required to wear and were provided with higher-grade surgical masks, like N95s or KN94s. In addition, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department released new guidelines on Jan. 4, 2022, stating that students should wear masks outside.

But many students believe these measures aren’t enough. 

Students often do not wear masks outdoors. Due to over 3,000 students attending RUHS, social distancing, even outside, is nonexistent. Every day, students may receive emails informing them of their exposure to COVID-19, often several days after they’ve been exposed, prompting concerns over whether students may have gone on to unknowingly spread the virus.

Junior Sam Miller attended the walkout to protest the way RBUSD has “refused to listen to students.” But as the students converged on her to hear her speech, her voice could not be heard above the shouts and taunts of the crowd. 

“It felt really demeaning,” Miller said.  “We have more than 400 cases on our campus right now, and no one seems to care. People don’t wear their masks properly, they don’t wear the right masks. People simply came out here just to get out of class. It makes me furious.” 

Another supporter of the walkout, senior Michael-Lee Chang, informed students of the walkout using his Instagram account @michaelmousestar. He played a key role in attracting attention to the walkout, as his account has 4,738 followers and receives upwards of 1,000 story views. 

“While the walkout itself may not have fulfilled its intended purpose in a way, it did fulfill its goal of getting a response out of administration and the district,” Lee-Chang said. “The sudden attention from random, big media outlets caught the school in an awkward position where they can’t completely dismiss the walkout as if nothing happened.”

Seniors Michael Lee-Chang and Celina Moreno stand next to each other as they observe the oncoming crowd. “I don’t think [the walkout] was genuine,” Lee-Chang said. “A speaker couldn’t even give her speech because it was so loud, and the crowd wasn’t social distancing or wearing masks.”
(Photo by Elizabeth Petrey)

Today, Lee-Chang also received a call from Dr. Steven Keller, RBUSD superintendent, asking to meet with him and RBUSD Board of Education President Raymur Flinn to discuss ways to improve the health and safety of teachers and students from a student perspective. 

While Lee-Chang didn’t believe the walkout was “genuine,” the original message “reached the people in power.” In this meeting, he plans to argue for stricter guidelines and harsher enforcement. For example, he is concerned that large clubs are still meeting indoors during lunch, a time when students are tempted to take their masks off indoors in order to eat. 

Despite many students using the walk-out as an excuse to skip class, it’s for causes like these that sophomore Rebecca Fung participated to “advocate for what [she] believes in.”

“I know that with all the people dancing or playing music, which are not very relevant to what we should be doing, I think the administration will only see that part of the walkout and not what we’re trying to advocate for,” Fung said. “But I also really hope a protest like this can create some sort of positive change, and I hope that they see the efforts of students that are actually here trying to make a change.”