Sage Staff Mixed on Return to In-Person Instruction

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Photo Taken From San Diego Reader

Sage Creek remains empty with the exception of a few staff and custodial members on campus. This will soon change with the planned hybrid opening date of Jan. 25, 2021.

On Dec. 16, the CUSD board decided to push back the return date to Jan. 25. On that day, some students will be continuing distance learning while others will be returning to campus two days a week. 

After four long months of online school and the expected return date-changing several times due to board member decisions that were repeatedly met with pushback, Jan. 25 has been met with anticipation. 

While some students and teachers are eager to return, the Sage Creek community is quite split on the issue. 

Some teachers and administrators are feeling confident in the safety precautions put in place by the district including Shannon Harrington, the SCHS vice principal. 

“The teacher will have their own designated teaching space [of six feet or more and] a lot of the classes are going to be at at least six feet or more student to student,” Harrington said.

The CUSD board has decided to expand school staff and are spending $1,297,105 in district funds in order to pay for health technicians, extra custodians, technology assistants, and other personnel to help troubleshoot hybrid learning.

In an email sent to all teaching staff at SCHS, Principal Jesse Schuveiller outlined the safety measures that will be implemented into every classroom prior to the return to campus. 

The safety measures include HVAC filters and HEPA purifiers in every classroom for proper ventilation and teachers will be receiving plexiglass desk shields for extra protection upon request.

 There will be extra personal protective equipment available which includes masks, and extra hand sanitizer which will be distributed in the first two weeks back to school.

Harrington felt that the district’s deliberation and decisions regarding safety precautions were adequate for a return to campus. 

She has high hopes for the return to campus plan and believes that the addition of in-person instruction for the students who want it will be beneficial to the learning process.

“Being able to be on campus and seeing people in person, I am hoping that [it]…increases motivation for students.”

Math teacher Allison Stock is excited about the possibility of seeing some of her students in person. 

“I’m really looking forward to being around my colleagues, being around other students…I’m just kind of excited that it’s going towards the direction of being closer to what I’m used to,” Stock said.

Stock is ready to leave her house, have more in-person interaction, and somewhat return to normalcy. She is also confident in the health precautions the school has taken. 

“I feel like it will be a safe return especially with the number of students in the classroom and all the precautions, as far as the PPE’s and all that good stuff,” Stock said. 

On the other hand, some teachers are worried about the safety of the students and staff returning to campus for the hybrid model of learning. 

“I know that the district did their best to put safety precautions into classrooms, but I am still uncomfortable because I will have less than six feet between students,” Shannon Alberts, English and AP language and composition teacher, said. 

The possibility that not all precautions will be perfectly taken in a classroom setting is important for students and teachers with preexisting health conditions or close family members with health issues, to know.

Another concern for teachers is the change in schedule which will affect students and teachers, regardless of whether they return to campus or stay online. 

Everyone’s schedule is set to change on Jan. 25, (for now the schedule remains the same as the Jan. 5 plan) when some students and teachers return for the hybrid model of learning. While this could disrupt the learning process, it also provides some students and teachers with a needed break from being home every day. ( Photo Courtesy of Nadia Razzaq)

“There’s going to be a learning curve for all of us,” Alberts said. “There’s going to be a shift in the time because it’s only 55 minutes instead of the longer time, so that’s going to be difficult but we’ll get through it together.”

Periods one through five will take place every day, except for Wednesday, and classes are shortened to just 55 minutes. 

Students choosing to return to school will be divided into two cohorts, organized alphabetically by last name. 

Members of Cohort A, during a normal school week, will attend in-person classes on Monday and Thursday while members of Cohort B will attend in-person classes on Tuesday and Friday. 

This will be an adjustment for everyone and could disrupt the learning process. 

Jill Roth, an SCHS Spanish teacher, has worries regarding the return to campus plan as well.

“My concern is how many days or weeks are we going to be on this schedule and then have to go back to distance learning, and then how does that affect the instruction?” Roth said.

She fears that the probability of going back and forth from in-person to distance learning would be the most harmful to students. 

“With the trimester [system] we just don’t have the time… every day I have [for instruction] is important,” she said, “We are already at the bare minimum of what students need to learn.” 

Despite her worries regarding the return to school plan, Roth has remained optimistic about the situation and thinks it will be positive mentally to be physically back in the classroom with students. 

“I think anything is feasible, we came into virtual learning thinking ‘this is impossible, how am I going to do this!?’ and [yet] learning does occur,” she said, “Believe me I’m teaching from school and I want my students to be here but I don’t know if it’s going to be what people think it’s going to be. It’s not going to be what it was last year, it’s just not.”  

COVID-19 numbers continue to climb while SCHS students and staff prepare to transition to the hybrid model of learning. As the numbers increase during the holiday season, health precautions should be followed so that the SCHS community can make a smooth transition.

There are many views regarding the return to campus plan and as cases rise across the state there is more debate over whether or not returning is the best option at this time.

The board meeting on Dec. 16 pushed back the expected return date three weeks but students and staff can still expect heavy health precautions and mixed opinions surrounding the return to school.