Cheerleaders welcome students back as Lompoc Unified reopens junior high and high schools
Lompoc Unified School District’s secondary campuses opened Monday — a week ahead of schedule.
And administrators report great student participation.
The district planned for a March 29 reopening, at the start of a new quarter, and had everything ready.
When Santa Barbara County reached the red tier, administrators had to quickly alert families about the earlier-than-expected opening, but the school sites were prepared.
Cheerleaders and drum-line members greeted Lompoc High School’s students as they returned to campus early Monday morning. Administrators hung banners welcoming the Lompoc Braves, a mascot name appropriate for current students.
Lompoc High School Principal Celeste Pico watched students arrive before the school’s gates open, more than 45 minutes early to class.
Better yet, they entered with masks on their faces.
“They want to be here, so they’re following the safety procedures, and they’re excited,” Principal Pico told the News-Press.
She didn’t see clumps of students and crowded hallways, and she described the transition as “very smooth.”
Cabrillo High School Principal Mark Swanitz had a similar day.
“The halls are so empty compared to what they’d normally, but the energy on campus is great,” he said.
He only corrected a couple students on how to wear their masks, and they seemed to have just not noticed the mask slipped below their noses.
“It went great. The kids were so excited, and we were so happy to see them on campus,” Mr. Swanitz said.
Students followed arrows directing the flow in hallways and stood in lines for bathrooms.
The halls felt empty with just over a third of the student body on campus.
Of the 1,200 students enrolled at Cabrillo High School, 330 are learning from home. The remaining students are split into two groups for a hybrid schedule.
Teachers have an option to teach their two hybrid cohorts together or have distance learners work on an assignment independently. Each classroom is equipped with cameras to broadcast the instruction and follow the teacher.
Splitting students into three groups (cohorts A and B and distance learners) required more staff.
Still, niche elective classes, such as auto shop, are offered in person. Distance learners had a slightly abbreviated course catalog to choose from.
Coordinating the schedules was a challenge.
“The master schedule was like no other, and we had to do it mid-year. All the secondary schools, we had to pull together and find the best way to do it,” Principal Pico said. “I feel like we were able to make everything happen.”
The district hired additional counseling services to check on students’ emotional wellbeing as well as plot credit recovery plans.
“It’s a tough year for everybody and just recognizing what our kids have gone through, we have increased our services,” Principal Pico said.
The district is strategizing a three-year plan to support students who’ve fallen behind.
Despite the challenges, she heard students chatting about college acceptance letters at last week’s football game.
“Our counselors have been amazing supporting them in this. They’ve been available through and through,” she said.
The district is looking to next year, although it’s unsure quite what it will be like.
Parents have asked Principal Pico if online learning will be available next school year, but she doesn’t have an answer yet.
She’s optimistic about the future — even with spring break looming.
“I think our kids want to be here so they’re making safe choices,” she said.