LOCKWOOD — Students are scheduled to return to San Antonio Elementary School when the campus reopens Monday.
The school applied for a waiver in early October, which was approved by the state and county, to permit in-person instruction even while Monterey County remains in the most restrictive tier of the Covid-19 shutdown.
After getting the go-ahead, administrators chose Nov. 16 to allow teachers to wrap up their first trimester of distance learning instruction. It also allowed different groups to coordinate, from administration, teachers and staff, to PTO and parents.
The waivers typically allow students from kindergarten to sixth grade to return, but San Antonio will apply it to kindergarten through fifth grade. Middle school students will continue distance learning.
Superintendent Josh Van Norman said 91% of parents wanted to return to in-person instruction in recent school surveys.
“It’s probably our best response rate we’ve had on a survey, parents were very responsive,” Van Norman said.
For those parents who had concerns with returning their children to school, Van Norman noted the waiver was approved not only by the Monterey County Health Department, but also the state. Two different agencies vetted the waiver.
“They feel it’s safe for us to return,” Van Norman said. “We’re small and we’re rural.”
Students who return will only be in their classrooms for half a day. This allows classrooms to hold fewer students due to spacing out desks for social distancing. The two different flights of instruction will be a morning flight from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and the other from 12 to 3 p.m.
Sneeze guards have been installed on student desks, extra handwashing stations are available in every classroom, all desks are spaced apart, and teacher assistants will be present in classrooms.
Van Norman said students who need additional instruction time, such as reading intervention, will do that in the portion of the day they aren’t attending classroom instruction.
“Once they’re in person, they’ll get that high-quality instruction and tutoring support,” he said. “We really feel we’re going to make a lot of headway with a smaller class size.”
Rather than large classes of more than 30, students may find their class sizes are instead eight or 10. Van Norman said this will allow for more focused educational attention, which is part of the aim for making up for the decreased offerings of distance learning.
Students will also return to a renovated campus, one with a new perimeter fence and entry gates. More recent updates have included the new parking lot just outside the school as well as a new track to play on. Classrooms have been revamped, in addition to the safety measures put in place.
“Everyone’s acting with urgency because we want our kids back and we want them all back to a new clean campus for them,” Van Norman said. “We want to welcome them back the best way we can.”