Salinas Union High School District, the largest school district in Monterey County, will start in-person classes at all its middle schools and high schools on April 27.
About 40 percent of SUHSD students will return to classrooms twice a week if they choose in-person instruction with a hybrid model, or remain in online learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Most classrooms will have 16 students (normal capacity is 30 students per classroom) and desks will be three feet apart and surrounded by a clear shield. Instead of spending seven hours at school, students will go home by lunch time.
To comply with safety protocols and avoid overcrowding in hallways, many will be one way only. “We look for these buildings to be energized” SUHSD Superintendent Dan Burns says.
The district reopening accelerated after Monterey County quickly moved from Purple to Orange tier. Instead of starting an enrichment program on April 19, the district approved to start a hybrid model a week later.
Despite the district reaching out to parents in different ways, email, letters, social media and phone calls, there were parents who didn’t know about hybrid learning. Julia Diaz says she didn’t receive any information about SUHSD in-person instruction.
Diaz wasn’t aware of the hybrid option and she was hoping her son Adrian Vera, an eight-grader at Washington Middle school, could attend in-person instruction. “At home, the kids get distracted,” Diaz says in Spanish. Her three younger kids are attending elementary school a couple hours every day and she sees the difference. “I see my kids happy,” Diaz says, because in person classes give her kids the opportunity to interact with other children.
One of the challenges is transportation; the district may make two stops at the same location and hire more bus drivers to bring as many students to the classrooms as possible.
During the first days of school, teachers will work to engage students into a classroom setting. “It’s really connecting them with the routines of being in person," Burns says.
SUHSD is planning to resume regular, in-person classes next fall.