STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, PHOTO BY EMILY MCNALLY
Just over half the students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools have opted into the district’s mid-April hybrid return, indicating widespread interest for in-person learning over a year since the pandemic first forced campuses to close.
On April 19, the 52.1% of district students set to return to campus will participate in four half-days of in-person instruction, switching to four full days a week starting April 26.
Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer noted that while the exact number of students participating in the hybrid return may be subject to slight change as the district further compiles the numbers and some students opt out, district sites will be able to accommodate their in-person learners following coronavirus safety restrictions — including the now-standard 3-foot social distancing permitted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Quite possibly to the chagrin of many late risers across the district, the school day will begin 15 minutes earlier than it currently does in order to accommodate the logistics of in-person instruction, including 20 minute passing periods to sanitize rooms between classes.
Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Teri Faught stressed at today’s board meeting the district’s commitment to providing an equitable learning experience for in-person and remote learners alike — affectionately dubbed “roomies” and “Zoomies.”
“We do not want to create an exclusive environment where these students are separated and no longer have the opportunity to learn together,” Faught said.
Broadly, in-person students will still be on Zoom in the classroom in order to interact with at-home students, although the logistical specifics will be left up to teachers.
Faught also expounded on vague lunchtime guidelines, saying that students will generally be prohibited from leaving campus unlike during a normal year.
“What we see during lunch is that many of our students who can drive will go off campus with their peers, and that’s breaking the social distancing that we have asked for,” Faught said.
But in current plans, students are permitted to leave campus to go home or eat with a parent or guardian — something that was met by confusion from the board of trustees.
“I would love to go off campus, but knowing my peers, you should probably make it more clear cut,” Los Altos High School Student Board Representative Riley Capuano said. “A lot of kids will just skirt around that and leave campus with their friends.”
“I would still like to see a hard and fast rule,” Trustee Phil Fallaice said.
Superintendent Meyer said that she and Faught will revisit the lunchtime restrictions.
The district’s stable groups — students attending remote classes from study halls on campus — are set to meet for the last time tomorrow, after which teachers will begin to return to campus to prepare for the hybrid return later this month.