Ocean Shore School

Ocean Shore and other elementary schools in the area are preparing for a more normal learning environment. Google Maps

Pacifica public schools have planned for a mid-April return to campus and a hybrid, in-person model for its students.

Pacifica School District will uphold its plans to return to in-person instruction starting April 19 for students in preschool through third grade, and April 22 for students in fourth through eighth grade. They will operate under a hybrid model, with students alternating the days they come to campus, and plan to return to full in-person instruction by August for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent of Pacifica School District Heather Olsen said that she thinks the district is ready to reopen and educators are eagerly preparing protocols to keep students safe. At Ocean Shore School there are directional arrows on the floor to direct the flow of people indoors. Sunset Ridge Elementary has made sure that chairs stay six feet apart and every bathroom is equipped with soap.

“There’s kind of a first-day-of-school excitement out there,” said Olsen. “It’s just that who would’ve ever thought the first day of school would be on April 19?”

Jefferson Union High School District has similar plans to return to a hybrid model after its spring break, said Superintendent Toni Presta. Twelfth-graders will come back to campus first on April 15, with ninth-, tenth- and eleventh-graders each following a week after. They are also tentatively considering plans for an in-person graduation at the end of the school year.

Angella Ferrer, a freshman at Jefferson High School, is excited to finally meet her teachers in person after almost an entire year of online classes. After a year with limited social interaction, it will be refreshing to see peers and upperclassmen in person.

Other students have also elected to forgo the hybrid model to continue distance learning at home. Freshman Carlos Menendez said he doesn’t want to risk infecting his family at home and will instead join his peers in person this upcoming school year.

Students at Jefferson also recognize the seriousness of staying safe, for the sake of their peers and older relatives at home. While the number of COVID-19 cases in California is falling, they still take safety protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing very sincerely.

“Health should be the No. 1 priority,” said Ferrer, who lives with her grandmother at home.

But online learning hasn’t been all bad. During the pandemic, Ferrer and Menendez utilized the digital tools of their generation to maintain community. A couple of months ago Menendez started a Music Buddies program, in which students can fill out a form with their music preferences and be paired with peers of similar taste. Ferrer has been making educational content for their school Instagram account, covering topics to share with the student body from Stacey Abrams’ career to how to protect the coral reefs. Next year they join the sophomore student government, with Ferrer as vice president and Menendez as secretary. They’re looking forward to their new roles as officers and being with students in person.

“I literally don’t know anyone that I’m friends with right now in person,” said Menendez, who just met Ferrer online this year. Since then, they have become very close, but have never met in person.

“I’m just excited to meet new people,” said Menendez.

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