Underclassmen in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District will attend campuses on a hybrid schedule soon.
The district’s board approved the plan Monday in a special meeting.
Freshmen will return Tuesday, and sophomores and juniors will be back May 18. Freshmen will have five weeks on campus, including finals week, and grades 10 and 11 will have four weeks.
The district welcomed seniors onto campus April 20 and has had a 30% attendance rate on campus the past two weeks.
Distance learning attendance has reached much better rates, keeping attendance close to pre-COVID numbers, Superintendent Antonio Garcia said during the meeting.
“I believe our schools are ready to have additional students come back to school in person,” he said.
If underclassmen attendance matches the seniors’, 15% of the school body will be on campus at a time.
The district has not detected any cases of on-campus transmission, and administrators wanted to wait until after spring break to ensure that vacation time wouldn’t cause high case rates.
“We really wanted to make sure we at least gave it a couple of weeks to be able to bring you a proper recommendation based on facts,” Superintendent Garcia told the board.
The plan did not come as a surprise to the board, whose members knew the district was monitoring the senior class before opening campuses to younger grades.
Students and families may also opt to remain in distance learning.
Administrators will be watching the health and safety of students and staff as well as learning outcomes and achievement, the superintendent told the News-Press.
“We are hoping and planning to be able to offer a full in-person instructional model next year. Nonetheless, we will assess the effectiveness of the hybrid model by the end of the year, after we have actually had students on campus for several weeks,” he said.