Paso Robles Joint Unified School District announced that students, up until the sixth grade, will have the option to return to the classroom in a hybrid model.
Students at Daniel E. Lewis Middle School will be able to meet their teachers and peers in person for the first time on March 9. After two days of orientation, they will be separated into cohorts who are on campus on specific days and times, with many coming in during the morning hours, and then spending the rest of the day online, and vice-versa.
Deputy Superintendent Jennifer Gaviola said, “We are able to bring back sixth-grade students because the new governor’s plan that came out January 14, emphasized a K-6 model which is different than the previously directed. So back in July if you had a sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade middle school, it excluded sixth grade for in-person because it was part of a middle school model. Now with the revisions of that document sixth-grade can return to campus, so we are very pleased with that change.”
Principal Kurt Payne told our team about how nervous and excited the teachers were, “We get those same feelings even on the first day of school of 'oh what’s it going to be like.' This is just a different kind of first day of school.”
Students whose families choose to participate in the hybrid model will be on campus part-time, in either the morning or afternoon. There are desks spaced out and arrows on the ground to direct the flow of traffic to help keep students as socially distanced as possible.
“The custodians and I have been measuring each classroom to keep the students six feet apart,” said Payne
Each day, the custodial staff will deep clean the classrooms and common areas. Like the district elementary schools, which have been open since November, the staff will use foggers and ionizers.
In between class periods, Gaviola told us, “The teachers will actually use a micro cleanse that sprays dust and high touch surfaces and then in the lunchtime area they’ll be a full disinfection that happens with the custodial staff before the PM (afternoon) students come in.”
But not every parent thinks this is a good idea. Michelle Mitchell, a parent of a seventh-grader at the middle school, said, “There’s going to be problems going back too. It’s only going to be half days on the hybrid plan. And that’s going to be tough for us to get our kids back and forth to school.”
The plan will affect how parents can organize their day because they will have to drop off and pick up their students based on their cohort times.
Teachers and students will have to monitor themselves and report whether they have been in contact with someone exposed to the virus or whether they have symptoms. Teachers will also be tested every month.
The school has multiple ways to check body temperatures – using a thermometer gun and a walk-through machine – that everyone has to pass through before walking on campus.
Like the elementary experience, this expanded hybrid-model will be a blueprint for secondary education students when they are finally able to return to school.
Gaviola said, “We are in a small slow phased rollback for our secondary students but until we hit that red tier, unfortunately, our secondary students will not be able to return, excluding our sixth-grade students.”
The school district will receive news on which tier they are in next week.