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Welcoming students back to campus

By Bertina Fan and Michelle Qiao April 28, 2021

Jonathan Ke Photo

From first to last: Seniors Nikhil Chandra, Ben Thompson, and Ryan Niemi eat lunch together next to the senior wall | Junior Gabriel Gaxiola and Senior Chance Desai eat lunch in classroom J-4 | Seniors Justin Wong and Christopher Lo greet each other on the "first" day of school | Wilson Yen, Math Department, prepares for his next hybrid in-person and online class | Jamie Cohen, David Hilger, Steve Seandel, Brian Marchetti, and Joe Kerwin, Social Studies Department, talk to each other during the break.

After an unpredictable year of digital instruction where students and staff members across the district faced both frustrations and triumphs, San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) announced on Feb. 26 that some students would return to in-person learning on April 21.

According to Principal Peter Park, the school participates in concurrent live instruction rather than hybrid learning. In hybrid learning, students would be split into cohorts that attend in-person school either at different times of the day or different days of the week to avoid all cohorts coming on campus at the same time. When a cohort is not on campus, its students attend instruction asynchronously. The concurrent live instruction model that SJUSD follows is only used by 10 percent of schools in California. It allows both in-person and distance learning students to receive the same number of instructional minutes at the same time.

The bell schedule remains the same for all students, with the longer break in between classes allowing at-home students to take a break from their screens and in-person students to wipe down their desks and take appropriate safety measures. During advisory, students are able to choose which teacher’s classroom they want to go to. Currently, 298 students are attending campus, but that number may decrease later on if families change their preferences on sending students to campus.

“I looked forward to seeing campus again the most. I made the decision to go back because virtual learning made me incredibly unproductive, and attending class in person would help me focus more. I was also excited to meet my teachers for the first time and to feel more connected in my classes,” Senior Nikhil Chandra said.

By offering the option of returning to in-person learning, SJUSD gave students the chance to meet friends and teachers, and helped seniors spend their last year of high school on campus.

Many students like Chandra have found online learning to be unsuitable with their learning styles. Simple tasks such as staying focused and taking notes have become challenges, hindering students’ learning process while distractions like social media, video games and texting friends decreased productivity. In fact, the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit Portland-based testing organization, reported scores showing significantly lower scores in both mathematics and reading as a result of distance learning.

Over the past year, teachers have also faced many unique challenges. Since distance learning made it difficult to build personal connections, many were excited to meet their students in person for the first time. For several weeks before students returned, teachers worked on preparing their classrooms and planning out how to effectively teach some students in-person and some online. Julie Montgomery, Math Department, measured out and positioned desks to ensure social distancing. She also used school-provided sanitation supplies, such as hand sanitizer and wet wipes, to help keep surfaces sterile. To help in-person students easily take notes from the projector, Montgomery rearranged her cable setup. She also created a charging station for students to keep their devices charged throughout the day.

By offering the option of returning to in-person learning, SJUSD gave students the chance to meet friends and teachers, and helped seniors spend their last year of high school on campus. In addition, students who struggled during distance learning can now easily gain direct support from staff members. Regardless of whether students chose to continue distance learning or return to campus, the school continues to work on improving students’ learning conditions.


About the Contributors

Bertina Fan

Staff Writer

Bertina Fan is a sophomore at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. She likes to start off messages with "ヾ(°∇°*) Hi!"

Michelle Qiao

Staff Writer

Michelle Qiao is a sophomore at Leland High School and a staff writer. She loves to play volleyball and spends her free time reading, drinking coffee and watching Pixar movies.

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