The new MOU between Ventura Unified and VUEA means students will return to campus full time starting April 26


Kami Kada

As schools plan to open soon, social distancing signs and reminders are placed around campus.

Caroline Hubner and Nicole Stidham

The decline in COVID-19 infection rates in Ventura County has prompted a flurry of excitement among Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) students who will be transitioning to hybrid learning from April 12 – April 23, and ultimately to full-time in-person learning throughout the rest of the school year starting on April 26. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced his initiative to get students back on campus this spring by incentivizing districts with extra funding if students go back no later than April 1. Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) has seized this opportunity and has worked to put together a comprehensive plan for COVID-19 safe learning. 

Last December, families were given the option to select hybrid or completely virtual learning for their student(s) as well as which group they would like their student(s) to be in. Depending on which group they picked, students in the A hybrid group will return to campus Monday and Tuesday. Additionally, they will be on campus on Friday (week of April 19 only). Students in the B hybrid group will return to campus Wednesday and Thursday. As well as on Friday (week of April 12 only). The C group (entirely virtual) will continue as they have in the last year, but there will be new start/end times of each period to accommodate teachers as they teach live and over Zoom.

It is important to note that the schedule for hybrid and the full return has been changed significantly across VUSD to ensure students receive all 240 daily state-required instructional minutes. 

Wednesdays will no longer act as an SEL day and will instead become a regular block instruction day. Fridays will alternate between 1/3/5/7 and 2/4/6/8 every week to evenly distribute class time. Also, school days will still be shorter than previous years, but they will be longer than the current schedule. 

During an interview, Foothill Tech Principal Russell Gibbs gave the list of protocols for hybrid groups A and B which detail arrival times, general safety procedures, student and parent support and necessary materials. The updated procedures/bell schedule as of March 30 can be found here

Arrival times will be staggered by first initial of last names meaning that last names A-L will arrive at 8:15 a.m. while last name M-Z will arrive at 8:25 a.m.. The campus will be closed until 8:15 a.m. and will not reopen until dismissal time. Parents are also encouraged to stay in their cars at all times, and students who are late will be required to check into the office. 

Safety protocols will also be heavily enforced while on campus. Students and staff must have a mask (no neck gators) on at all times except for when consuming food or drink. Food and drink will also only be permitted outside and all persons must maintain social distancing guidelines. Temperatures will be taken every day upon arrival (must be below 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Locker rooms will be closed, but bathrooms will be open with a maximum capacity of two people per bathroom. Only four people will be allowed to sit at a lunch table simultaneously, and social distancing must be maintained at all times. Students will be asked to go straight to their classrooms once entering and given the opportunity to use the provided hand sanitizer.

Student/parent in-person support services will be limited to help protect the faculty. The office building will be closed during arrival and dismissal times but can be accessed by the walk-up window at other points throughout the day. The media center will be closed with the exception of appointments for material pickup but any questions can be answered by reaching out by email. Counselors will be present in the quad during breaks to talk or make future appointments.

The materials that students will need on campus vary from previous years. All hybrid students will be loaned a Chromebook, case and mouse and are expected to bring it fully charged to campus every day. They will be discouraged from bringing their own devices due to WiFi and connectivity issues. Also, any additional paper handouts and textbooks distributed by specific teachers should be brought to class. Students will be encouraged to bring their own personal water bottle (drinking fountains will be closed), additional masks, class schedule, hand sanitizer and a light jacket. All the doors and windows are required to be open during in-person instruction, so students are strongly encouraged to dress appropriately. 

In teacher and Activities Director Melanie Lindsey’s classroom, “desks are currently all facing forward-facing and six feet apart,” and, “gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and cleaner [are] ready to be used.”

As things change daily with returning to in-person instruction, Lindsey is unsure how hybrid learning will look in her classroom. She is, “having a hard time wrapping [her] head around how to get this right for all of [her] students.”

Katie Tedford, Assistant Principal at Foothill Tech, gave some information on meal services while on campus. “Food service will be available for all students on campus with a nutrition/break snack and lunch at no charge for all students,” Tedford explained. 

Tedford continued that, “nutrition will be available at tables in the front and back of the quad and sack lunches will be handed out to students as they leave campus for the day.” The protocols for lunch pick-up for students who will remain on distance learning will also remain the same. 

What do you think?