With local high schools reopening next week, both Mountain View and Los Altos highs are expecting similar numbers of students to return: 51% at Los Altos and 55% at Mountain View, according to data presented last week. The rest will continue learning remotely. Alta Vista High, the district’s alternative school, saw a much lower share of families saying their student would return, with a dozen students initially opting in. Alta Vista is far smaller than the main high schools, with roughly 90 students.
Although only a dozen students formally said they would come back, Alta Vista Principal Bill Pierce said he believes the number who actually attend may end up being higher, and increase over time. Only approximately one-third of Alta Vista families responded to the district’s return survey, he added.
The lower response rate may be partly because the original survey was in English only, Pierce said. The school has subsequently been making calls home to speak directly with families.
Many Alta Vista students also have been working during the pandemic, Pierce said, and may be concerned about being able to keep their jobs if they return to school in person. Even if students are working full-time, Pierce said they can still participate, and have the option to only be on campus a few days a week, or for part of the day.
“We have a lot of flexibility in the alternative world (where) traditional schools don’t,” he said.
Some families also may fear sending their children back to school during an ongoing pandemic. The virus has had a disproportionate impact on Latino residents, who have made up over half of the COVID-19 cases identified in Santa Clara County, roughly double their share of the population. Alta Vista serves a higher proportion of Latino students than the main high schools – 76% currently, according to Pierce.
School officials have been reaching out to students individually to encourage them to come back to campus. Whether or not a student says they are coming back ahead of time, if they show up – either on the first day or in the coming weeks – Alta Vista will accommodate them, Pierce said. He also thinks students who return may encourage their friends to come back, too.
“That’s what we’re hoping – that there will be some positive peer pressure to get back on campus,” he said.