The Lompoc Unified School District's preliminary plan for the return of students this fall will look quite a bit different from your traditional school setting.
After receiving feedback through a survey of around 4,500 parents and 500 teachers, the district plans to implement a hybrid model for the upcoming year.
One of the first Central Coast school districts to release their return-to-school plan, Lompoc Unified says preparing for the unknown is a major reason why they did it so early.
“We wanted to make sure our families and our community had time to plan. We wanted to come out early, so they had a month or two months to plan,” said Bree Valla, LUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.
The plan calls for elementary students to be in the classroom only two days a week; half of them on Monday and Tuesday and the other half on Thursday and Friday. The other days will be used for virtual learning. Those in seventh grade and up will be on campus two and a half days a week.
The groups will be based on where the students live. The district plans to have siblings, even if at different schools, attend classes the same days.
Most classrooms now meet social distancing requirements. There will also be changes to recess and lunch times to prevent cross contamination and classrooms will be sanitized frequently.
The district recognizes the importance of having in-person interaction between the students and teachers.
“We wanted to make sure our students had that face-to-face interaction with their teacher,” Valla said. There’s nothing that beats that relationship they build and the things you can do in-person.”
“I think the opportunity to have them all during the week at some point and to have less in the classroom, so you can specialize instruction and really connect with the ones that are there, I think there’s opportunity there,” said Lynette Martin, 6th grade teacher at Buena Vista Elementary.
Some parents are ready for their kids to return to a kind of normalcy.
“They just love being in the classroom. This time away has really made them appreciate being in the classroom with their peers and having feedback from peers and teachers is really important,” said Sarah Foss, a teacher with two students in the district. “I didn’t realize how much they value that. They’re excited to go back, and at this point, we’ll take what we can get.”
“We all have an ideal, but we all want what’s best for kids. I think it’s best we remain flexible and continue to innovate,” Martin said.
The plan is not set in stone and subject to change with guidelines from Santa Barbara County. In order to prepare teachers for the changes to the upcoming school year, the district has moved the first day of school back to August 31.