Half of MVLA students opt to return to campus

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Zoe Morgan/Town Crier File Photo
A student works outside at Mountain View High School last month. The district has brought students back to do their online classes from campus already but plans to resume in-person classes next week.

Roughly half of local high schoolers plan to return to campus when in-person classes restart next week, while the rest are opting to continue learning from home.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District is resuming face-to-face lessons Monday, more than a year after the pandemic shuttered school campuses.

Districtwide, 52% of students have chosen to take part in the return, while 48% plan to remain virtual, according to data presented at a board of trustees meeting last week. Those numbers aren’t final, but Associate Superintendent Teri Faught said she expects the split to remain approximately 50/50.

That’s effectively in line with what the district was expecting, Faught said. In a survey the district conducted earlier this semester, an estimated 60% of students were interested in returning, but more recent teacher surveys showed roughly 40-50% planning to come back.

“When I took a look at the various pieces of data, it looked closer to 50%, give or take,” Faught said.

Regardless of which option students pick, teachers will be simultaneously teaching the remote and in-person groups using Zoom and other tools. Those who take part in the reopening will come to campus four days a week. On Wednesdays, all students will be remote, largely working independently.

For the first week, the district plans to reopen for half-days, but after that, students will be on campus four full days, completing their typical class schedule and keeping the same teachers.

Preparing for return

Teachers and administrators were on campus last week ahead of this week’s spring break getting ready for the reopening. Faught said it was a “first-week-of-school mentality” as teachers set up their classrooms, with many returning to campus for the first time since last spring.

As students return, the emphasis will be not just on academics, but also on helping students connect with one another after a year away.

“Our teachers are very well aware of the need to build community when students come back,” Faught said, adding that this will be particularly important for freshmen, who haven’t experienced in-person high school before.

Even with students and teachers back on campus, things won’t look the same as before the pandemic. Masks will be required, as well as at least 3 feet of distance between students. The district also is using a daily online symptom screening form.

One notable change is that the district is moving away from its typical “open campus” model, where students can leave during lunch. The district will be “strongly encouraging” students to remain on campus during lunch, Faught said, adding that it isn’t acceptable for groups of students to jump into cars together and leave campus, which would violate social-distancing requirements.

At last week’s board meeting, some suggested banning students from leaving campus at lunch rather than making it a strong recommendation, but no official decision has been announced.

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