From November 2nd to the 6th, students had the opportunity to choose to go back to school hybrid or fully remote starting January 19th. Through webinars that the Associated Student Body held for that week, our staff projected that they provide a safe environment for all students planning to return to campus next semester. But as we are getting closer to reopening, what should we expect?
Some staff preparations that we are having upon opening up San Marcos promote healthy hygiene practices. The school is placing six handwashing and sanitation stations throughout campus. The staff will be monitoring social distancing. Each classroom has been installed with hand sanitizer dispensers, and the custodians will clean and sanitize as guided by public health and the district. Sanitization machines will be placed inside classrooms. All staff will be required to use face-covering or shields. There will be directional arrows to show students which direction to walk and posters to remind students to social distance during in-school hours. Additionally, when entering San Marcos, students will have a digital check in requirement that includes temperature checks.
“I want students to be able to feel like being themselves,” stated Dr Alvarez. “But also know that we have now realized that being back is something we can’t take for granted. We have to take care of each other, we have to follow safety protocol, and be kind to one another. In terms of what to bring, keeping it most simple is the best idea. We might not have access to lockers, so bringing only what you need to get through the day will be helpful.”
To implement distancing when inside and outside the classroom, windows will be opened, and space maximized, and there will be minimized contact between students, teachers, and any public transportation drivers. Except when necessary, community visitors, including parents, will not come onto campus. Plexiglass partitions will be placed in offices where the public, students, and staff interact. Plus, the vast majority of assignments will be turned in electronically via NEO. Lastly, as cohorts may be outside at the same time, they will not mix.
Santa Barbara Unified School Districts Plan 5.2.2 states, “In Grades 9-12, the Hybrid Models we will employ will guarantee that students and staff will interact with fewer individuals by moving to a block schedule in which students take fewer courses each term. Lunch will be eaten outdoors or with their established cohort on days with inclement weather.”
If a staff member, child, or visitor becomes sick, all school sites and the district office have identified an isolation room to separate anyone exhibiting symptoms. If someone is tested positive, they will immediately be required to wear a face-covering and wait in an isolation area until they can be transported home or to a healthcare facility. If a student, staff member, or visitor experiences a medical emergency related to COVID-19, 911 will be called immediately. Lastly, staff and students who are ill will require written clearance from a health care professional or Santa Barbara County Health Department before returning to a school campus or district workplace.
“I’m excited to eventually go back to school but I don’t want to go back,” said Sophomore Jonas Strand. ”I’d like to be learning in person and have more personal contact with my friends and classmates.”
With all of these colored tiers it is a bit confusing to keep up, but as of now the Santa Barbara Health Department and our Santa Barbara Unified school board have agreed that we don’t have to wait for the orange tier to be in hybrid. The state has changed this that we can go to hybrid if we are in red for two consecutive weeks. Hybrid still keeps us at under 50% capacity since some students chose to stay in remote learning.
In conclusion, this is a time to stay positive. The school has been working hard on keeping the school safe for staff, students, and families. Plans are continuing to change. All information from this article and more about schools reopening can be found on our school websites webinars and on the Santa Barbara Unified Plan for Return to In-Person Instruction. Below are them linked to go and read more about the school reopening plans.
All of this information is about what we know now; December 3rd, 2020