History is in the making as, after a year of school campuses deserted, students across California have the opportunity to set foot back on campus. Buena students who registered for hybrid learning are set to return on Mar. 31, after a much-anticipated wait.
On Mar. 1, California Governor, Gavin Newsom signed an agreement that gives school districts $2 billion to reopen schools by Apr. 1. Ventura Unified plans to officially open all schools Apr. 1 with a potential orientation activity, with Apr. 2 being a VUSD board holiday and the following week being Spring Break (Apr. 5-9).
Hybrid learners are divided into three groups, Group A, Group B and Group C. Students enrolled in Group A will attend classes on campus during Mondays and Tuesdays, and those in Group B will attend in-person classes Thursdays and Fridays. Group C students will remain in remote learning. Wednesdays will continue as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and asynchronous workdays. No schedule changes will take place.
According to the District-wide safety plan, students will be required to screen for their temperature at home before arriving on campus through an app called ParentSquare. At school students will be required to observe three feet of social distance at all times, even during breaks.
Buena’s Hybrid Learning Schedule shows that school days at Buena will range from 7:00 a.m through 1:30 p.m, with an hour dedicated to each period, and a twenty minute window in between. At the end of each class, a ten-minute period is provided for off-group and DL (distance learning) students to ask questions to their teachers through Zoom.
Students returning to campus will need to bring their district-issued chromebook fully charged, rather than personal devices. Inside and outside the classroom, faculty and students will be required to wear masks at all times. Teachers will have a plexiglass shield to maintain physical distancing and hand sanitizer will be available at the entry point to every classroom.
Classrooms will be fogged daily with a food-safe, nonhazardous, citric acid compound with the lowest toxicity level according to the U.S. EPA, which is told to kill COVID-19. All ventilation and HVAC systems have been checked and updated to work at optimum condition, with all air units mandated to run from 6 a.m to 6 p.m to maintain constant air circulation.
Social Science, English, Choir Teacher Kevin Downey, and English teacher Antoinette Perez are the hybrid learning ambassadors for Buena. They help other staff members set up their classrooms and technology, working hard so students can return smoothly.
“I’m excited because man, I miss my students,” Downey said. “It’s been a tough year, not having that day-to-day interaction.”
With the return, students will experience a little taste again of what school was like before the pandemic hit.
“To a degree, I think students can expect a little normalcy,” Downey said. “You’re going to wake up in the morning, you’re going to go to school, and you will have at least three periods a day. You’ll go to your period, [then] break, go to another period, have a break, and another period. You won’t have all six periods a day, but you will still be expected in the afternoons to log in and do asynchronous work for your other periods.”
Because of the variety of classrooms at Buena, each room will be slightly different, but desks will either be taped off or distanced, in order to exercise social distancing.
All teachers at Buena have been provided wireless headsets, enabling communication with students on zoom while walking around the classroom.
“I think the biggest challenge is going to be catering to the students online, particularly those who communicate in the chat while working in class,” Perez said. “The microphone will be encouraged, and patience will be key.”
VUSD’s plan is to remain open the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year and to fully reopen for in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. With most staff members in the district being vaccinated, social distancing will become the main challenge, however, hopes are high for this gradual return.
“Students can expect to see their teachers giving it their all and working hard,” Perez said. “Students can also expect that things are going to be messy, because it’s a learning experience for both teachers and students. In the face of adversity, this process will require a team effort from students and teachers, together.”