Anzar High School has been sitting empty in the outskirts of San Juan Bautista for more than a year after the facilities closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced students to learn remotely from anywhere they possibly could.   

But those empty hallways and classrooms will soon be filled yet again, as dozens of seniors begin in-person instruction beginning April 20.  

Principal Angela Crawley said during a mandatory information session on April 14 that they are more than prepared to have students return to campus. The staff spent the week getting ready for next week when they reopen the school’s doors for the first time in 13 months. 

“It’s complete excitement on campus right now,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for over a year for Tuesday to come and I’m teary-eyed just thinking about [students] being back on campus.”

The Aromas-San Juan School District reopened for in-person instruction on April 12 for transitional kindergarten to 8th grade. On Tuesday, Anzar High will reopen but just for a group of 12th graders who signed up for the hybrid model.

A small cohort of 12 students from different grade levels has been on campus since October and they will remain with the same group until the end of the school year. 

In the final week of March, parents of seniors received a survey which required a response of distance learning or hybrid learning. As of Wednesday, Crawley said that 40 seniors, which is exactly half of the senior class, selected hybrid learning. 

That means the school can have students on campus four days a week–Tuesday to Friday–rather than have a cohort model. Their schedule will remain the same when they go back to school. 

On Monday, they’ll have to remotely check into their Advisory period where they will be assigned asynchronous work. 

Tuesday and Thursday are set up for periods 1-3 and an Advisory period will take place in the same 3rd period class at the end of the day. Wednesday and Friday are scheduled for periods 4-6 and teacher office hours will take place in the same 6th period class. 

Crawley said the reason behind the scheduling was so that they can limit the number of possible exposures to three classes. Students can pick up their schedule at Anzar High at the sign-in table on Tuesday morning. 

Those who chose to stick with distance learning don’t have to change a thing. The same lessons will be taught for remote and in-person instruction, and both groups will be participating at the same time.

Remote students will be able to interact with students and teachers in the classroom.  

If a student decides to change their mind, there may not be room due to physical distancing. 

“If I can make it work, I will but at this point the classes are getting full,” Crawley said. 

The safety protocols are similar to just about every other school in San Benito County. Once the students step on campus they have to be screened with temperature checks and questions. All students and staff must wear masks at all times unless they’re drinking or eating outdoors.

The school is set up with one-way trails guided by signage and staff on campus.

The classrooms, which are equipped with air purifiers, will be limited to just 12 students per room to accommodate six feet of physical distancing. 

Students who refuse to wear a mask properly will be escorted to the isolation room where they will remain until someone picks them up. They will not be allowed back on campus until they agree in writing to wear a mask properly.

If someone refuses to leave, everyone else will evacuate. 

“If you see something, say something. This has been my motto all year,” Crawley said.

A contact or exposure is a person who is less than six feet from a case or someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes, according to the California Department of Public Health. 

Crawley said the first scenario is if someone shows symptoms of Covid-19 they will be sent home and recommended to get tested, but the school will remain open. 

The second scenario is if a family member or someone in close contact with a student or staff member tests positive, they will be sent home to quarantine for 14 days from exposure and Crawley needs to be notified. Again, they’ll recommend testing and the school remain open. 

If someone happens to test positive for Covid-19 they’ll notify the San Benito County Public Health Department. Crawley said they’ll isolate the case and quarantine them for 14 days after the case was last present. 

They’ll have to disinfect and clean all of the classrooms along with any spaces that the infected person may have been present. 

Crawley said that a school closure is very unlikely especially with such little time left in the semester. Situations that may trigger a school closure include if an outbreak occurred in 25% of the school’s population within a 14-day period. 

The school can also close if at least three outbreaks have occurred in the school and more than 5% of the school population is infected.

“We’ve been very fortunate to not have to [close] with our small cohort on campus and I think that’s because we’ve done a really good job of informing parents of symptoms and what to do if their student isn’t feeling well,” Crawley said.

Crawley said the school is working on a plan for graduation. She mentioned that the seniors have requested a parade similar to the one that took place for the Class of 2020.

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