Chino Hills, CA

Chino Valley Unified School District working on plans for 2021-2022 school year in response to statewide reopening

Renee Elefante

(CHINO HILLS, CALIF.) The Chino Valley Unified School District is currently figuring out its options for the 2021-2022 school year, according to district employees.

California officially reopened on June 15, and while the masking and social distancing requirements were lifted for vaccinated residents in many public spaces, students attending K-12 schools must still wear masks.

Superintendent Norm Enfield is in the process of figuring out the district’s options for the upcoming school year as schools have different guidelines to follow compared to the rest of California, according to Andi Johnson, the director of CVUSD’s communications department.

Enfield was unavailable for an interview request.

A message was sent to students and parents on May 21 by Enfield, stating that for the upcoming school year, the school day for all schools in the district would be extended by 30 minutes, an extension intended to help improve the learning gap caused by the pandemic.

The extra 30 minutes complements the Expanded Learning Opportunities grant provided by Newsom’s March 5 coronavirus relief package, according to Enfield.

Tania Santos, whose twin daughters will be attending Townsend Middle School for the seventh grade and whose son is an incoming senior at Chino Hills High School (CHHS), said that while she is “happy” about the possibility of full in-person instruction, she is concerned about students wearing masks outdoors in the heat.

“I just hope that as the school year gets closer, [district officials] will review that they don’t need to wear them when they’re [the students] are outside having activities,” Santos said.

During distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year, the district’s schedule for the high schools consisted of one six-period day and four days with a block schedule. The block schedule days contained three blocks, which each lasted around 80 or 90 minutes and had 40-minute breaks.

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CHHS incoming senior Ashley Ma is involved in ASB and the school's Key Club chapter.Renee Elefante

Ashley Ma, an incoming senior at CHHS, said she found the block days to be “easier” due to the smaller number of classes per day and longer break times.

“It was pretty okay to me because there’s only three classes, but like my math class, [the teacher] taught the whole time,” she said. “So the whole 90 minutes, you’re just listening to him explain math.”

Peter Ottman, an English teacher at Chino High School, saw that some of his students were struggling with and unmotivated with virtual learning.

“Signs of struggle were the obvious camera off issue or the camera aimed at the top of their heads,” Ottman said in an email interview. “Other times, students who did well for a while fell as they struggled not only with virtual learning but with all the other things happening in their lives. Many things led to a lack of motivation and it was frustrating that there was no easy way to check in with them like there is in a classroom environment.”

Signs of struggle were the obvious camera off issue or the caemra aimed at the top of their heads. Other times, students who did well for a while fell as they struggled not only with virtual learning but with all the other things happening in their lives. Many things led to a lack of motivation and it was frustrating that there was no easy way to check in with them like there is in a classroom environment." – CHS English teacher Peter Ottman
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CHHS teacher Wendy Pennett taught French 2, French 3, French 4 and AP French during the 2020-2021 school year.Wendy Pennett

CHHS French teacher Wendy Pennett noted that in one of her classes, only five out of about 29 students had their cameras on by the time campuses reopened for “blended learning,” or hybrid instruction.

“As a teacher, I'm wanting to see my kids' reactions. I want to see 'Do they understand what I'm saying in French?" and I have nothing,” she said.

Junior high and high schools were allowed to return for hybrid instruction on March 23. Two weeks later, they transitioned to full-time in-person instruction.

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Incoming senior Erica Collins is involved in basketball and ASB at Chino Hills High School.Renee Elefante

Incoming CHHS senior Erica Collins, who is part of the school’s associated student body, said that the hybrid return to campus was confusing at first due to the new arrows on the campus map that were meant to direct students. She also noted that the plexiglass in the classrooms was a challenge.

“To even see through the plexiglass was the hardest thing for me, at least,” Collins said. “I wear contacts and glasses, and my teacher put me in the back, and I had to look through like seven plexiglasses.”

Collins, who was also on the girls basketball team as a power forward and center last year, said that they were able to play around 14 or 15 games upon returning to campus.

“Honestly, I did not think we were going to have a season at all because the way January and February went, I was like ‘Things are really bad in California. There’s no way they’re going to let us play,’” Collins said.

The boys basketball team ended their season early after six members tested positive for COVID-19.

Due to the difficulty she was facing with wearing her mask while teaching in-person, French teacher Pennett played recordings of native speakers reading the books assigned to the classes.

“The first two, three weeks of school that were back in-person, I would feel out of breath all day because I’m trying to project through the mask,” Pennett said. “And at the end of the day, it would take me an hour before I felt like I’d caught my breath. And most days, I would go home and take a nap for two hours, which I have never done before, but I was that level (of) exhausted.”

The first two, three weeks of school that were back in-person, I would feel out of breath all day because I'm trying to project through the mask," Pennett said. "And at the end of the day, it would take me an hour before I felt like I'd caught my breath. And most days, I would go home and take a nap for two hours, which I have never done before, but I was that level of exhausted." – CHHS French teacher Wendy Pennett

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I am a sophomore majoring in English/Journalism at Chapman University, where I currently work at its student-run newspaper as the Assistant News Editor. I have been interested in reporting ever since my freshman year of high school when the student newspaper followed a statewide district enrollment program that was set to end by the next school year. Since then, I gained an appreciation for local journalism, and I hope to bring coverage to any issues that are affecting local communities. My work has also been seen in the teen-led news outlet, The Cramm, and the Now Simplified Instagram account, which focuses on explaining political issues/events to its followers.

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