Students Joyfully Return to School

“Today is a brand-new day”
Posted on 04/14/2021
Olympic View Welcome Sign

Some students were skipping as they made their way to school campuses for the start of in-person instruction this week. Others watched in wonder as they were greeted by cheering school staff members with pom-poms and balloons, as parents shouted out “Thank yous” in return. Still other students were serenaded by student musicians as they exited their cars when parents dropped them off.

It had the feeling of the start of a typical new school year. Yet, it was April 12, just two months until the end of the school year. And every student and staff member had a face-covering. Even that protocol could not mask the joy from students, staff and family members. It was 13 months after the pandemic forced school closures. On this day, there was an overwhelming sense of relief, excitement, even anxiety about students’ return.

“We know what our families have been through,” said Lauderbach Elementary Principal Melody Belcher. “Today is a brand-new day.”

Lauderbach ClassroomShe credited her staff and teachers for working hard to prepare classrooms to receive students. “I cannot put into words the level of both enthusiasm and gratitude on behalf of myself and our incredible team of teachers, instructional assistants, Child Nutrition Services staff, custodians and front office staff,” Belcher said. “The energy on our campus is above and beyond proud to welcome back our Lauderbach Scholars.”

Approximately 54 percent of the District’s students began school this week in a hybrid instructional format, in a morning or afternoon format, Monday through Thursday. Fridays are reserved for distance learning for all students.

At Olympic View Elementary about 65% of students are back on site for in-person learning. The new schedule has students, parents, and staff learning new procedures for drop off and pick up, but all has gone well thus far.

Olympic View principal stands in front of banner that says "Stay Golden"“We are really proud of our students, parents, and staff for their help in ensuring a safe return to school,” said Olympic View Principal Lisa Lines. “People read the communication we sent out and understand that our number one priority is to get kids back on campus safely. Kids are happy to be here. They have shown themselves to be amazing, smart, and resilient. They know when it’s time to be safe and wear their masks. The students have a new appreciation for school. Overall, it’s been a smooth transition.”

At Vista Square Elementary, parent Marisol Hernandez shared with news media how her expectations were met. “Everything was really safe, really mellow. We had a good day today,” Hernandez said.

Vista Square Principal Marissa Allan said the school and District had spent many months preparing for this date but it was parent support that made the difference. “If it wasn’t for the support of the families, it would not have run as smoothly as it did today,” Allan said. “Coming back for families has been an exciting day. …Our families were prepared. These kids were excited to be back.”

At Wolf Canyon Elementary, Principal Mathew Shy was at campus at dawn putting final touches on physical distancing markings on the sidewalk in front of the campus. He shared with news media his nervous excitement about the return.

“I’m most looking forward to walking through classrooms and seeing the Timberwolves again," he told NBC 7.

Kids with their thumbs upSuperintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D., said the District has learned and put into place strategies that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We know more now than ever regarding how to prevent transmission in schools,” Dr. Escobedo said. “There are many examples across the country and across San Diego County about what works and what does not work. Federal, state and local health officials have all stressed that, with several layers of safety measures, elementary schools can be safe workplaces for teachers, and support staff. We are overjoyed about the return of our students, and are ensuring safe learning environments for both children and staff.” 

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