After months of WiFi issues and “Hey, you’re muted,” teachers and students have finally returned to the Los Altos High School campus for the first time since March of last year. This transition from a remote learning model to on-campus hybrid instruction came into effect on Monday April 19, after the Mountain View-Los Altos District found a compromise that balanced teachers’ safety concerns and student and parents’ desires to return in-person. The District and Teachers’ Union signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, March 26 outlining the terms and guidelines of the return.
The agreement stated that all teachers — regardless of vaccination status — must return to campus, with the exception of teachers with medical notes, who are not required to return to campus until July. These teachers will continue to instruct remotely while substitute teachers supervise students in classrooms.
An adequate time frame was given to all staff members to receive the COVID-19 vaccination before their return, according to Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer, and while these vaccinations are encouraged, they are not mandated by the District.
Illnesses related to COVID-19 will not impact teachers’ sick leave days, but non-COVID-19-related illnesses will, even if teachers are still able to continue instructing remotely.
“I think the plan did a good job of trying to meet the needs of as many people as possible,” biology teacher Tory Johnson said. “It’s not possible for everyone to get exactly what they want, but this plan makes some good compromises.”
Johnson added that she feels comfortable returning because of safety measures in place such as personal protective equipment in each classroom, a fan to circulate fresh air, a revamped building circulation system and mask requirements.
While some teachers are more apprehensive about returning to campus because of how their families might be affected by their close contact with students, the District has worked closely with these teachers to decide on a plan that will satisfy their concerns.
“The District was extremely flexible with me and my concerns with the health of my two daughters, who are not currently vaccinated,” Arias said. “We both agreed that I would see a medical opinion from my daughter’s pediatrician and if she felt that it was safe to return then I would. After having conversations with her, I felt more comfortable returning to campus.”
Most teachers are excited to return to school to start teaching students in person for the first time this year, as it gives them a lot more flexibility when instructing the class compared to distance learning, according to science teacher Darren Dressen. Dressen has been on campus since November as he is facilitating the Advanced Science Investigations (ASI) student cohort.
“I would definitely choose a return to campus because I really miss seeing students,” Johnson said. “However, don’t tell that to my new puppy. I told her I was really sad about having to go back and leaving her all day — I’m pretty sure she believed me.”