“I did flips on my bed. I was super excited.”
William Brown wasn’t talking about a trip to Disneyland. He wasn’t talking about going to the beach.
The soon-to-be 8th grader was talking about being allowed to physically attend a summer enrichment program at Cajon Valley Middle School in El Cajon.
“I get to see my friends,” Brown exclaimed. “I get to see my teachers. I get to start a new grade.”
Brown is one of about a hundred students on the Cajon Valley Middle campus this week. They’re taking classes, doing physical education, and being students again. Almost all of the Cajon Valley Union School District’s campuses sprung back to life this week when the summer enrichment programs began.
“I’m so happy to be back,” said Brown’s principal Justin Goodrich.
There are obvious changes.
Goodrich said there is a laundry list of new safety and sanitation protocols in place on all the campuses and in all the classrooms. Students are screened before they enter campus; they are kept at least six feet from other students and staff; they regularly wash their hands; any shared PE equipment is regularly and thoroughly cleaned; students don’t switch classrooms; and doors are left open to help circulate fresh air.
Mr. Goodrich said there simply is no substitute for in-person learning.
“People that get into this business don’t get into this business to teleconference with kids,” he said.
However, there are plenty of parents who think returning to the classroom is dangerous.
“For those parents who are hesitant or not at all wanting to send their children back: We’re also going to have a distance option for them,” said Goodrich.
The Cajon Valley Union School District is offering families four options when the regular school year resumes in August. Parents can home-school their children themselves, children can do online learning with a teacher from their school, they can participate in a hybrid schedule allowing students to split time at home or school, or they can return to campus five days a week.
“Are we putting the kids in jeopardy?” asked School Board Trustee James Miller. “The answer is no because parents have the option. Again, keep in mind the key word is ‘option.’”
Miller said some parents need their kids to go to school so that they can return to work and help the economy.
“In order to make that efficient, schools must open,” said Miller.
Willy Brown said his parents don’t need him to go to school.
“They’re happy I’m out of the house,” he smiled from behind a face mask.
The school district is paying for the summer enrichment program and sanitation supplies with federal money obtained through the CARES Act.