SALINAS, Calif. (KION) The Salinas Union High School District is preparing to welcome students back for in-person instruction on Tuesday.
Students will return after 13 months of distance learning due to to the COVID 19 pandemic shutdown.
An eighth-grade math teacher at Washington Middle School Maria Parker said she's anxious but ready to return. Interaction with students is needed since most of the students have had their cameras turned off during online instruction.
"I feel like we're going to be well equipped for, you know, bringing back our students on campus," said Parker. "Thanks to our janitors, we've been able to make sure that our desks are socially distant, we have plexiglass. So, even though it's a big change for us for the last five weeks of school, I feel that with the work that we're all putting into, we're going to be ready."
For students whose parents felt safe in returning their child to class, instruction is split between two sessions. One group attends Tuesday and Wednesday and the other Thursday and Friday. Both groups will have three classes each day but will head home at the start of lunchtime. The Salinas Union High School Superintendent, Dan Burn, said that most of the teachers are happy to be back. The district sent out parent surveys when they began in-person instruction, which showed that at first, most parents indicated that they were concerned about in-person instruction.
"As we've gone along, those numbers went from about 60% that said, they would not, to about half and half now, about 50%," said Burn. "So it's changed a little bit over time. And now we believe that and we're confident that as the families see that these are safe environments for students to learn that more families will start to feel comfortable returning their kids to school in person."
According to Bur, 75% of the staff indicated they will receive the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available. Although teachers are excited, there are still some concerns.
"I'm nervous because not everyone is vaccinated in our city. But, I believe our district has done their best to get us prepared," said Devilla.
Gabrielle Devilla, an 8th-grade science teacher at Washington Middle School said she's excited to be able to see her students in person and believes the school is ready to welcome them back. But, there are still some teachers with child care conflicts and pre-existing health conditions who are nervous to return, she said.
"There are people who've, during this pandemic, who've stayed hunkered down this entire time," said Devilla. "So to be put back into the classroom with maybe half of the population of students and all of the teaching staff. It's kind of like an abrupt transition back into society."
Students have the option to change their minds if they do not feel comfortable once they return. However, students who stick with online instruction may find it difficult to switch over to in-person due to limited space available in the classroom.