Classes started Monday for the students and staff in the Jefferson Union High School District. While it was not business as usual at Terra Nova and Oceana high schools, the return to classrooms brought a modicum of normalcy.
April Holland, principal of Oceana High School, said students attend in-person classes, with masks required for all. Enrollment is robust at Oceana, with 600 students including a full freshman class.
Grades during COVID-19 were delivered as either letters or pass/fail marks. Students could change last year’s letter grades or “no marks” to pass/fail, Holland said.
“We were trying to anticipate what students would want after COVID-19,” Holland said. “One parent asked about it. There is no gain to change a letter grade. I don’t know what will happen next year.”
All staff had access to vaccinations through the district office. Students can be vaccinated against COVID-19 at Daly City Youth Health Center. It was not clear how many staff or students remained unvaccinated when school started.
“Many staff said they were vaccinated and took advantage of that,” she said.
Oceana has a later start time than in years past, 8:30 a.m. every day. The first week’s schedule includes meetings between students and advisers.
Oceana hosted a full-house freshman orientation run by the Associated Student Body. Staff realized the 10th-graders had not been on campus because they spent freshman year taking classes virtually. There will be a special tour for them, too, and other activities, Holland said.
This year, all students will be served a free lunch. The district will be reimbursed for the cost of the lunches. Ninth- and 10th-graders will have a social and emotional curriculum through a county grant. All schools in the JUHSD will have a social worker on campus.
“We are excited about that new addition to support our students, as they are going through extraordinary needs due to COVID-19,” Holland said.
All campus extracurricular activities, such as clubs and athletics, will be happening from the first day of school. There are some new clubs this year, as student interest was gauged.
At Oceana, the school will continue its practice of having seniors do research projects and it will offer interim classes during a lengthy spring break.
“I am so excited to have our students back and to meet our new students. I can’t wait to see the school full of students,” Holland said. “Staff has been planning all summer long to make the reentry to campus thriving and safe. We have some very enthusiastic staff members and some wonderful new hires.”
Oceana will continue to offer its garden program and a cooking class to learn about food and nutrition. Holland scheduled more advanced placement chemistry and physics than Oceana has had in recent years.
“Last year, COVID-19 required us to do a lot to keep everyone safe. We will incorporate that learning into this year. In general, our school and the district take into account a student’s social, emotional and physical well-being,” she said.
Pacifica School District’s schools begins on Aug. 18.