Just a handful of schools in the Bay Area have reopened for on-campus instruction, including Carondelet High School in the East Bay, and they say they’re proof it can work.
“I love being on campus and getting to talk to my teachers and seeing my friends and just seeing people,” said student Angela Napper. “It’s nice and refreshing and it keeps me awake.”
Napper, 16, said there's pre-screening questions she has to answer on her phone each morning before getting the green light to go to school, but she’s thrilled to be back in class.
“Nothing replaces that human connection,” said principal Kevin Cushing. “As teachers we need to connect with students we need to understand them as human beings and you can’t do that in a zoom box.”
Carondelet High School reopened for in-person learning at the end of October using a hybrid model. The principal says social distancing, masks, plexiglass and other safety measures have made it possible.
“We’re just finishing up our eighth week with students on campus with zero spread on campus,” said Cushing.
A third of the students are still attending class virtually, and kids have the option to switch back to distance learning if they have concerns.
Senior Kayla Ponce, 17, said she sanitizes her hands frequently and Friday was just her second day back.
“At first I was really nervous but after seeing how safe Carondelet has been I feel really safe and confident in this environment,” she said.
Students and teachers say they’re grateful to be on campus, and believe the school has taken every step to keep them safe.
“Your teachers are right in front of you so it’s easy to focus and you have that mentality I’m going to get work done before I get home,” said senior Milani Martir.
Carondelet says implementing all the safety measures has been costly, they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars to safely reopen.
“The learning that happens in person is much better and if the school community can enforce the protocols I think it’s worth it,” said teacher Michael Schooler.