By Shira Kalish,
With a partial return to campus approaching on April 12, teachers are scrambling to prepare for the changes. This is the third time in the past year that teachers have faced a dramatic change in their job — the first being when school shut down a year ago and transitioned to a distance learning model with each class once a week, the second when this school year started with the newly implemented distance learning quarter system, and now the third with a hybrid learning model.
Despite the turbulent past year, many teachers are optimistic about the new plan and look forward to seeing students in person.
“I am feeling very happy to see the students again. I think it is time to go back now that the teachers are in process of being vaccinated,” Spanish teacher Janice Candelario said.
“It will be great to meet at least some of my students face-to-face for the first time,” social studies teacher Holly Istas said.
According to Istas, teachers will have 4-5 days of training and preparation time before students return to campus. She said this will be helpful since it is difficult to prepare for such a drastic change in the middle of the third quarter with all of the work teachers already have.
Istas is already spending a lot of time planning and is asking for advice from teachers she knows in other states who are currently in hybrid learning.
“We will be thrown into a new environment with last minute training so I hope the students and community realizes that it will not be perfect,” Candelario said.
As for what the schedule will look like, teachers have mixed feelings. Students will be put into two cohorts, with Cohort A attending classes in person Mondays and Tuesdays, Cohort B on Thursdays and Fridays, and all students attending school over Zoom on Wednesdays. Those not in the classroom on in-person days will “zoom in” to class virtually.
This means that teachers will need to teach students in the classroom while simultaneously engaging the virtual students. Candelario is concerned that teachers will not have the technology to do it all successfully.
Social studies teacher Caitlin Butler shares this concern.
“I have all of these questions running through my head: What will students at home be able to accomplish vs. students in the classroom? What resources will both groups need? What will need to be put on Canvas? I also need to work on setting up my classroom to be able to help the students online and the students in the room,” Butler said.
She said that Canvas and other online programs used in the past year will be helpful with the transition.
“As a teacher I always feel like I need more time and resources, but no matter what, it is time to welcome back students,” Butler said.
Candelario would have liked to have Cohort A attend school on Mondays and Thursdays and Cohort B on Tuesdays and Fridays to spread out the in-person learning.
Butler said that she will be fine once she adapts to the new schedule.
“The schedule is not ideal, but nothing has been over this last year,” Butler said. “I am so happy that we are going back, I am willing to work with a different schedule.”
Students can decide if they want to participate in part-time in-person learning or remain fully virtual. With all of the uncertainty about how it will work teaching virtual students at the same time as in-person students, it is understandable that some students may be unsure about which option will be the best for their health and education.
According to Davis High head counselor Catherine Pereira, students can try out in-person instruction and change their minds if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Likewise, if a student chooses to remain in distance learning they can later decide to return to campus.
“I am excited to see students again on campus. I think the hybrid model is a good transition back to school,” Pereira said.