It’s January and you just returned for your first day back at Middle College High School. You’ve been waiting for this day for so long. You get out of the car and put your mask on. You go to see your friends, but wait. What will school even look like when we return? MCHS principal, Damon Voight shared his insider information.
Damon Voight has been working in the education system for 25 years. He has been the principal at MCHS for four years now.
Voight described what the district has been doing so far.
“The district has begun opening Learning Labs (small classrooms for students who struggle with having functioning internet at home) As time goes on more Learning Labs will open on more school sites. We may have one at Middle College.”
Middle College is not like other schools in the district in terms of going back.
“Middle College has a few extra areas of concern to think about when coming back to school as a dual enrollment school where students are enrolled in both high school and college classes. So when we consider coming back in a Hybrid model we must consider our high school class start times and how they will fit with college class start times. We also must work with our partners at Santa Ana College to follow their safety guidelines as well as the guidelines for SAUSD,” Voight said.
Our return date is heavily dependent on the state of the virus in the next few months.
“Right now the SAUSD has preliminary plans to start high school students back in January for second semester. These plans are dependent on how the Covid-19 cases develop over the next few months,” Voight said.
No matter when we return, there will be some difficulties.
“The hardest part of coming back to on-campus instruction is making sure we have all the safety protocols in place so all students and staff are safe. Safety is our first priority then instruction. We can’t instruct students if you aren’t safe,” Voight said.
Classes would not be the same as they were pre-COVID.
“Students will be divided into 3 groups A, B, and C. Group A will attend school on campus Monday, Tuesday and certain Fridays. Group B will attend on campus Wednesday, Thursday and certain Fridays. Group C will be students whose families do not feel comfortable with a return to campus at this time. On the day students are not to be on campus they must attend class virtually. Classes will be small. No more than 14 students in a class. Students will still log into Canvas and Zoom while in the class. This way our teachers can give instruction to all three groups at once,” Voight said.
To ensure we stay safe, “Plexiglass dividers will be placed in the office and will be placed on student tables. We will also have air filters in every classroom,” Voight said.
As for P.E. Voight said, “There will be no locker room access. PE lessons will take place on the fields. If it rains the class of 25 will be sent to rooms that have teachers on prep periods.”
Voight said lunch will also have a few adjustments, “Lunch will be grab and go. School will end at 12:30 and students will grab their lunch on the way home.”
As for breaks Voight stated, “Students will have to be in a designated classroom during off periods.”
Students will be discouraged from taking in-person SAC classes.
“We are asking that students take online classes as much as possible. Only a limited number of SAC classes will be offered in a face-to-face format. Students may ask to meet with Mrs. Espinosa or myself to ask for a face-to-face college class. It will be allowed on a case by case basis,” Voight said.
If you are on campus and you have an online class, Voight says, “We will designate a room that they can use at that time.”
Students and staff will be expected to wear masks.
Voight said, “Masks will be available for students who do not have one. If a student does not wear a mask they would not be permitted in class and can attend class virtually. “
When asked if he wanted to add anything Voight stated, “Just for all our students to stay safe and calm. We have a plan to return in January for hybrid in-person instruction. Many things could change as we know in that time. Just continue to complete your work and communicate with your teachers and friends. We will get through this together and enjoy a much brighter future.”
MCHS counselor Ruth Olivos highlighted the complications of us returning.
“Considering MCHS is on the SAC campus, our return poses many different challenges than other high schools. Not only do we have to plan accordingly for our students and staff, but we also have to take into consideration SAC’s plans to return. Other high schools can plan for their return without the challenges of accommodating another institution,” said Olivos.
Olivos thinks that returning will be a struggle.
“I think the hardest part of returning would be our mental state of mind. And by that I mean, that many of us are in this specific state of mind whether that be anxious, nervous, scared, excited, happy-we all have different feelings and perspectives on what is going on in the world. I might feel anxious about going back due to the fear of getting sick and taking it back into my home whereas others might be happy and ready to be socializing in person without any fears. I can honestly say that I am not ready to return at this moment,” Olivos said.
Olivos believes that the pandemic has both negatively and positively impacted the way she works.
“Being remote has been a life changer for many of us as we can reach so many more students this way! Being able to connect through zoom, remind, and other avenues has been great! But there are times that I feel I cannot connect in a more personal way with students because we are not face to face. Students find it easier to not show their faces while we are having a meeting because they have that option. Generally speaking, that’s okay with me but sometimes it’s nice to see a friendly face especially during these more challenging times,” Olivos said.
On the topic of MCHS students being able to take SAC classes in person, Olivos stated, “I am not sure to be completely honest but I do not believe that MCHS students will be allowed to go to SAC classes in person quite yet. As I mentioned earlier, even SAC students are going to be limited if we do go back next semester. But again, nothing is set in stone as of yet.”
Nothing is set in stone yet. With cases on the rise, going back to school feels like a distant dream.
“I would like to say…I am here. We are here. We are ALL in this together and together we can get through anything. Yes, it is hard! Yes, I miss you all but we can look to the future with hope in our hearts that things will get better and we will all be able to resume our lives with a more grateful heart. I am proud of all of you and I will see you soon! Also, don’t hesitate to say hi and just check in with me,” said Olivos.