While elementary schools are able to reopen because the COVID-19 infection rate has been below an adjusted rate of 25 daily cases per 100,000 residents in LA County, high schools in Los Angeles County are forced to remain closed until the daily COVID-19 case rate in LA County falls below 7 per 100,000 residents.
Mathematics teacher Zachary Sandoval commented, “The idea of returning to campus generates mixed emotions among our community, including both students and adults. The excitement of gaining back some semblance of normalcy and the fears associated with the ongoing pandemic are equally warranted.”
Principal Frank Kozakowski has prepared a plan for Loyola High School’s on-campus learning that is meant to safely ease students back into school. The student body is divided into five equal cohorts based on zip codes. Each cohort represents about 20% of the student population, not including the sixth “home cohort” that families can opt into.
Sandoval advised, “I think it’s important for everybody to remain mindful and sensitive to each other’s lived experiences and to respect all health and safety guidelines during our transition to hybrid learning. Being flexible with ourselves and with others will be key to adapting to the changes that lie ahead.”
English teacher Thomas Marsh added, “The idea of cohorts is good and I agree with Kozakowski, and the idea of variable populations as a useful way of dealing with potential breakouts on campus or the unforeseen circumstances that could occur with our return. It is also an efficient way to allow students to travel together as Loyola is a commuter school.”
As parents and students are considering returning to on-campus instruction, the Loyola administration released a binding form for families to make a decision. If families opt in to the stay at home cohort, they will be restricted from returning to campus for any open-air activities, retreats, or practices.
Junior Victor Shammas stated, “It’s unfortunate that I won’t have the ability to continue at-home instruction and play tennis or attend club activities. I have established a routine that works for me in this era of remote learning. Nonetheless, I have complete faith that my classmates and I will adapt to the unfamiliarity of hybrid education.”
Once The LA County Department of Public Health gives permission for reopening, the first two days of this on-campus return will consist of student orientations and onboarding, and not until the third day will the first cohort come to campus for academic classes.
Spanish teacher Rick Pedroarias stated, “Personally, I am very excited to return. I have been looking forward to some semblance of returning to campus and teaching face to face. My goal is to make the guys at home as engaged as the people at school. I think that we all want to stay healthy, but we have been on campus with other activities and have been doing a great job at staying safe.”
In California, 35 of 58 counties are vaccinating teachers, and on Feb. 19, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that as of Mar. 1, 10% of the state’s vaccine allotment will be designated for vaccinating K-12 educators and staff.
Director of Student Activities Chris Walter commented, “Personally, I feel safer being vaccinated, and I have received the flu shot every year. Hopefully, a lot of teachers get vaccinated so we can return to campus as soon as we can because it is important for students to be back.”
As teachers in California have been green-lighted for COVID-19 vaccinations, many teachers at Loyola High School have already received their vaccination while others have pending appointments, which have been impacted by weather delays and production shortages.
English teacher Jason Schmidt explained, “As word has spread that teachers are now considered part of the essential worker tier, many of my colleagues and fellow educators are taking advantage of this situation to receive vaccinations.”