GOLETA, Calif. — Students are back in the classroom Monday, 51 weeks after Goleta Union School District closed in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The district has modified its classrooms, drop-off and teachers and students wearing masks.
Drop-off at Ellwood Elementary school was filled with first day excitement and nerves. First-grader Alfonzo Terrazas said he was excited to see his friends. He waved to everyone he saw with his shark backpack on. His dad Adrian was excited for him at drop-off.
Adrian asked his son, "Why are you excited?"
"To see my friends," said his son Alfonzo. "To play in the championship of the game."
Stuart Kasdin dropped off his 5th-grade son. He said, "He been nervous actually, heading to class. It's been a long time since he's physically been in school of course."
Inside Miss Evyn Van Homer’s 2nd grade class, the students got to work on an “About Me” worksheet. The activity packet is similar to what they would normally do during the first day of school. The students worked quietly at their desks which were spaced six feet apart and had plastic dividers.
"It's not the first day of school," said Miss Van Homer. "But it feels like the first day of school. Do you guys agree?"
Miss Van Homer said she was ready to welcome students back into the classroom.
"Online we got into a really good routine and it ended up being pretty doable and I think it worked pretty well," said Miss Van Homer. "But I think this is going to be much better in terms of seeing how much kids have learned. Being able to offer differentiation in our instruction."
Along with the new changes, the district added a new schedule for drop-off to space out classes and families.
Goleta Union School District superintendent Donna Lewis said the district worked hard to make the first day of in-person learning happen.
"Of course this is all a little bit of an experiment because we've done things like this before," said Lewis. "But I've been hearing messages from my staff all over the school district, as we saw today I think it worked beautifully."
Half of the district’s staff have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Lewis hopes the rest of her staff gets their first dose in the next couple of weeks.