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SB Unified begins first day of school fully online

SBUnified Distance Learning
Blake DeVine/KEYT
The Teacher's Fund will help kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in Santa Barbara purchase educational supplies.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — For students, teachers and parents within the Santa Barbara Unified School District, today marked a first day back at school unlike any other. 

Throughout many of the district’s 20 campuses, it was eerily quiet with no students in sight.

"This morning I was still waiting for that car full of kids and they never came,” La Cumbre Junior High School principal Bradley Brock said. “It's been a little difficult for us to just adjust to that.”

Many houses throughout Santa Barbara were transformed into home schools on Tuesday, as students started their new year entirely online. 

However, that didn’t stop students’ excitement from seeing their friends and teachers once again. 

"Just the enthusiasm, the kids want to be back,” Harding University Partnership School 6th grade teacher Megan Reed said. “This is restoring and helping calm any of the worries or fears that I had."

While some instructors taught from home, nearly 75% returned to the classroom in order to help provide their students with a sense of normalcy.

"Seeing me in this environment helps them switch gears and realize that this is still school, even though it’s much different,” Reed said.

"Not only does this give our instructors a place to teach but it allows the students to feel as if they're in the classroom, even it's on Zoom,” Brock said.

With this new learning format requiring students to log long hours of online courses, concerns remain on the amount of screen time these kids will have each day. 

"Our biggest challenge is probably going to be teachers being able to use the technology in a way that keeps kids engaged,” Santa Barbara Unified School District superintendent Hilda Maldonado said.

This means longer breaks for students between classes and teachers promoting active educational behavior. 

"Between the spring and now the fall, we've learned lessons through experiences,” Brock concluded. “We're making things better for our students.”

To successfully deliver distance learning, the Santa Barbara Unified School District aims to provide every child and family with electronic devices needed to attend class online.

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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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