SANTA ANA, Calif. - The Santa Ana Unified School district’s Board of Education voted unanimously to give families a choice between online learning or a hybrid of on-campus and virtual instruction when school starts next month.
Students who choose the hybrid option will have a very different in-class environment than the one they left in March.
“We want to make sure that regardless of in-person or distance learning that students have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment,” said Santa Ana Unified’s Director of Community Relations Susie Lopez-Guerra. It wasn’t a decision that the board took lightly.
“There’s a lot of fear in coming back. But we want to make sure that the entire community understands that we’re there to support them,” said Mrs. Lopez-Guerra.
Pio Pico Elementary School has now been set up as the district’s ‘model school.’ Classrooms that would typically have about 30 desks now have 11, which are all spaced six feet apart. Plexiglass barriers now line the front office, there are hand washing and sanitizing stations in every classroom, and arrows dot the hallways in an effort to transform them into ‘traffic lanes.’
“Students are going to have to move as if they were vehicles out in our streets, so they’re going to have to follow the arrows that allows them to tell what flow the traffic will be moving,” said Principal Dr. Lupe Gomez.
In addition to the visible changes to the school, students will be required to wear masks, eat lunch in their classrooms, and practice social distancing at recess. The school is also working to reduce common touchpoints.
“When possible, we’re going to be propping doors open so students and staff don’t have to touch the door or door handle,” said Dr. Lopez.
The school has also set up an outdoor classroom that will be used when weather permits.
The district hopes that giving families the option of virtual or hybrid learning will accommodate a range of needs.
“We have parents who have to go to work, and need their students to come back. We have students who are now primary caregivers and this flexibility in the hybrid will allow them to continue their journey while supporting their families,” said Mrs. Lopez-Guerra.