With San Diego County in the red tier, students in the Carlsbad Unified School District returned to campus for in-person instruction Thursday.
It was a first day of school unlike any other given the pandemic.
“It’s exciting but it’s a little stressful because it’s going to be a weird change,” said Carlsbad High School sophomore Hayden Vanderpool, who also said he is looking forward to reconnecting with friends.
Every day, students do a simple temperature check before they leave home, said CUSD Superintendent Ben Churchill. Parents have signed off on an affidavit that their students will do the check every day.
There is social distancing in the classrooms, sanitizer protocols, new filters in all the HVAC systems and new stand-alone air filtration systems in every classroom.
“We’ve got a really successful layered mitigation strategy approach that is looking to be effective,” said Churchill.
Veronica Torres said she is a “little bit” worried about COVID-19 but said her parents have been vaccinated so she does not have to worry about them getting sick. As a freshman, she is, however, nervous about going to a brand new campus.
"I’m excited, but I’m a little nervous because I’m new to this school and I don’t know my way around," Torres said.
Churchill said that first day nervousness is normal pandemic or not, and soon students will adapt to the changes.
"Of course students have jitters the first day of school. I think they'll adapt very quickly to this new way of doing things," said Churchill. "More than anything else, they're going to benefit from the opportunity to be with their friends again, to be around other kids, to get help from teachers in-person, and I think very quickly this will feel just as it always has.”
Churchill said the hope is to get all students who choose in-person instruction back on campus five days a week. He said potential changes in social distancing guidelines could make that possible this year.
"I feel so hopeful, that this is the first step in a number of steps which will get us back to normal -- if you can call it that," Churchill said. "But from a personal perspective, I just feel so hopeful and so happy today.”