Returning to In-Person Learning

By Olivia Mendoza (10)

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This is the once myth but now fact that had every blended student at Ayala on the edge of their toes: returning back to in-person learning. Those  words would change the way students in the county have been getting their education for the past year.  

 

On March 14th, one day after the official one year “corona-cation” anniversary, Superintendent Norm Enfield announced that Junior High and High School students in the Chino Valley Unified School District would return to school for the first time in over a year. The announcement read, “As of Friday, March 12, 2021 San Bernardino County is officially in the Red Tier... [students] will return to in-person instruction following a cohort model beginning on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.” 

 

Blended learning students were now forced to adapt once more to the latest model of education. Cohorts would be introduced as half the student body was split into an A group, with the rest put in a B group. As one group attended school in-person, the other cohort would complete tasks from home. Asynchronous, or at-home, work consisted of anything ranging from simple questions, finishing homework, or even completing a video assignment. Students would get marked for attendance and would prepare for in person learning taking place the following morning. 

 

As March 23rd quickly approached, faculty, teachers, and students rushed to create an environment suitable and safe for everyone. Heightened tensions rose as educators knew they would soon meet their students face to face. Zooming, sharing screens, only being able to see ceilings fans, and the tops of foreheads were now a thing of the past. 

But when walking onto campus for the official “first day,” did Ayala students expect what they saw? Freshmen walked in blind sighted, as they had their first "real" day of high school. Seniors could now say it was their last, first day of their high school careers. 

 

Having plexiglass, masks, wipes, and hand sanitizer are now the new normal, as it is mandated throughout campus. Temperatures are checked everyday upon entering, as masks remain above the nose for the entire school day. With classes only being half full, and students sitting in every other desk, safety precautions are taken. 

 

In the classroom, safety is the number one priority as students are supervised under teachers. However, when at lunch, do students feel just as protected? 

 

When asking the student body, Kylee Heather (10) agrees that enough precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of her peers during lunch. “At lunch there is enough room in between others that I’m not worried about taking off my mask," said Heather. "When wiping off the desks when entering the classroom, it makes me feel safer."

However, freshman Andrew Han, says otherwise. He goes onto say that with “mask requirements and temperature checks, I do feel secure… to some extent." Further adding, “I understand that there will always be students that do not take the pandemic seriously. The reckless attitude within students frightens me, but if I follow the proper guidelines, I believe I will be safe.” 
 

Bulldogs were slowly beginning to shift into the mindset of going to school again before they were shocked with other news from the Superintendent. Only after the first day of school, Enfield shared that students will return for daily in-person learning instruction. 

 

Senior Victorya Ha concludes that “transitioning to in-person learning felt a bit rushed and a little hard to adjust to in terms of daily assignments, class times, and transportation.” But she also agrees with the majority of the student body. “It’s nice I get to see my friends and we even get to have some senior activities since it’s our last high school year!” 

 

Without even knowing the outcome of students attending in cohorts, CVUSD has transitioned into a setting that is foreign under the circumstances of the pandemic. Classes will now become full, with only three feet of distance required between each desk. Transitioning from about 1,000 students daily to now 2,000 peers is certainly questionable. 

An anonymous distance learning student disagrees completely with students returning to in-person learning. 

 

When originally making the choice to choose what learning model fit them, they concluded that they would “most likely catch [the virus] if I didn’t choose distance. For my own safety and for others, I decided to go distance learning!” 

 

When asked why they thought returning was not suitable, they stated that due to the distance guidelines “being reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet, it’s not safe nor is it up to standard. We aren't going to be safer by cutting corners.” 

 

As vaccines become more widely available, students can receive them and feel a lot more safer on campus. Ha is one of the peers who did just that. 

 

In under a month's time, the education model has completely switched. The transition from full time distance learning to now entirely being immersed into an in-person setting will challenge Ayala scholars, just in time for finals season.