The push to get middle and high school students back in front of their teachers in their classrooms, learning full time, five days a week is moving ahead.
Tuesday night, the Vista Unified School District voted to bring back students and teachers April 5, the day after spring break.
“I would say this is the first step in the right direction to make the best out of what we have left out of our last two and a half months of senior year,” said Paige Dimler, a senior at Rancho Buena Vista High School who has been on campus for in-person instruction one day a week.
“It’s been so long,” said high school senior Jacob Williams. “We love to have social interaction.”.
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The district said it was ready to reopen schools in January, but a change in state guidelines did not allow many districts, including Vista, to come back as planned. A recent lawsuit threw out the requirements, and the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health followed the lead.
Now, the recommendation is that districts have a minimum of three feet of space between student desks, and if shorter distances are being considered, additional safety measures should be in place.
Superintendent Matt Doyle said in most classrooms the space between desks is three feet or more, and incidents when it would be less than three feet are rare.
“Our district is fully prepared,” said Doyle. “We have an amazing staff that has prepared each of our schools, all the health and safety mitigation techniques are in place and ready to go to support our students and staff, and we can’t wait.”
But the president of the teachers union in Vista Keri Avila said the district is rushing it, pointing to other districts that plan to bring students back April 12, one week after teachers go back April 5.
“I trust they want to give the teachers and educators what they need to be in a safe environment but rushing through to do it over vacation is not a practical plan," Avila said.
For Williams, it is not soon enough.
“The feeling of being around friends that you've been working so hard with the past four years, it's a phenomenal feeling,” Williams said.