SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Learning, listening and having fun with friends.
That's what it's all about at Harding University Partnership School, where classes are now on campus five days a week.
“It's fantastic,” Harding principal Veronica Binkley said. “This is probably one of the best days that I’ve had in my career."
“I’ve seen so many smiles today,” Harding sixth grade teacher Megan Reed said. “Seen so many conversations, so many kids not sitting alone anymore."
More than a month into hybrid learning, the Santa Barbara Unified School District decided to double its students' on-campus instruction.
For many kids such as sixth grader Marlene Solis, this brings a buzz of excitement.
“It's been fun because you get to see your friends again but in-person,” she said.
Given new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, students can sit three-feet apart if they are wearing masks.
At Harding Elementary, this allowed its administration to bring back more kids into the classroom.
“We were able to bring all of the students back that were in Cohort A and Cohort B,” Binkley explained.
“With six-feet distancing, I could only fit 14 students in my class,” Reed said. “There would be no way that II could fit everybody in one place, so the three-feet rule really just allows for everyone to be back safely."
After a year stuck staring at screens with online instruction, some students were surprised to see all their peers back on campus.
“Seeing everybody again, I’m not really used to it,” sixth grader Daniela Espinoza said. “I’m used to just being at my house and looking at a screen."
To allow for enough space between students, Harding has moved some of its classrooms outdoors.
According to the staff, it actually allows kids to be even more attentive.
“Learning in person is really the best way for elementary students to learn, bar none,” Binkley concluded.
Starting next Monday, secondary schools — 7th through 12th grade — within the Santa Barbara Unified School District will bring students back on campus four days a week.