Originally published in La Plaza Press
By ISAAC MEJIA and ALISSON BERMUDEZ
As spring break approaches, students of the Redlands Unified School District will decide whether they will return to school with appropriate safety measures or continue Distance Learning from the comfort of their homes. (ISAAC MEJIA and ALISSON BERMUDEZ/ La Plaza photo)
Redlands Unified School District staff and parents received an email on March 17 from the Superintendent Mauricio Arelleno. The email proposed an original in-person schedule for high schools within the district. This concerns Redlands East Valley High School, Redlands High School, Citrus Valley High school and Orangewood.
The schedule is a hybrid between in-person and distance learning, and it would take effect on April 12, the second week after spring break ends. According to the email, an emergency special board meeting will occur on Tuesday, March 23 at 5 p.m. where the district will be “approving the plan as presented, approving the plan with modifications, or not approving the plan at all.” The meeting will be broadcasted and accessible via a link on the district website.
An excerpt from the email sent by Arelleno that explains the schedule above:
Secondary students who choose In-Person would attend school In-Person two (2) days a week (Group A on Monday and Tuesday; Group B on Thursday and Friday) and attend classes via Distance Learning on their Non-In-Person days (Group A on Thursday and Friday; Group B on Monday and Tuesday). This schedule maintains four days of instructional continuity for all students, while providing the In-Person opportunity to those who so choose. Families that choose to stay in the Distance Learning model will attend their classes during the afternoon Distance Learning sessions. Wednesdays will be an asynchronous day for all students which will allow teachers and support staff time to plan and/or they may also provide office hours to support students. An asynchronous day will permit time to thoroughly disinfect the campus beyond the daily routine.
According to the email, parents will have until Sunday, March 21, 2021 to decide whether or not their students will be attending school in-person or if they will remain on Distance Learning. This gives families four days to decide how their children will end the 2020-2021 school year. Arellano made sure to address the fact that if families change their minds, they are able to make a preference request to the administration for consideration. If by March 21, you have not picked a preference, students will automatically be placed into Distance Learning by default.
Although there is a plan for the new schedule to get students back in their seats in class, the question of how students will be separated into groups is still undetermined. There is a plan for a group A and a group B for both online and in-person classes but the organization of these students is still undetermined and will be discussed at the upcoming board meeting. For students who choose to return to in-person instruction, they should be expecting a new system that includes following proper protocol of distance learning, the use of health masks, and health screenings. Schools will be administering more detailed specifics regarding the Safety Plan which will outline the general outline of the reopening of the school plan.
This change will not only affect students, but teachers as well since they now will have to double plan for an in-person and online lesson and still put forth their best effort to cover as much curriculum as possible without overwhelming students.
Eva Shinnerl, Redlands East Valley Advanced Placement Language and Literature teacher said, “Any system we choose will have advantages and disadvantages. Some students desperately need to be back on campus, and others prefer to stay home. After a year of distance learning, I’m thrilled that some students can return. If students get less time in each class during fourth quarter, that’s the necessary compromise we need to make to get students on campus. Teachers don’t want to give up instructional time, but many students’ mental health needs will be better met if they’re able to come to school.”
Students will only be receiving two days of instructional class time. This paves the way for more assigned homework and more stress as the school year is quickly coming to an end and finals/AP exams are right around the corner.
Catherine Mikhailova, a junior at REV, said, “I think the new schedule will add extra confusion and be less efficient, because it cuts down on the time we actually spend in class.”
Mary Groninger, a junior at REV said, “I can see why they would want this schedule. They are integrating students back into school and are also reducing screen time. However, it is also reducing class time in general, which can be really harmful. The change couldn’t have come at a worse time. As AP students, we need as much instructional time with our teachers in order to prepare for our AP exams coming up.”