Servite High School in Anaheim welcomes students back on-campus after nearly a year

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- After nearly a year of remote learning because of COVID-19, the majority of the Servite High School student body was back to class Monday, on campus.

Senior Joey Lutfi said the reunion came just in time.

"To be able to come back together as one big community, right before that one-year mark is huge. It's what we've been looking forward to and working towards," Lutfi said.

School staff say a key to returning to campus was ensuring safety.

Faculty and staff were given the option of a vaccination at the school last Friday.

Personal protective equipment, like masks, is required, along with temperature checks, health screenings, contact tracing and physical distancing.

Class sizes were smaller. The president of Servite High School, Randall Adams, said that wasn't much of a challenge at the all-male private school where the student-to-teacher ratio was already pretty low before the pandemic.

"We're moving classrooms into the theater. We're moving classrooms into the library and we've also added two tents to the campus to afford us outdoor spaces for student learning in conjunction with the lunch area," Randall said.

Senior theology teacher Cory Fajardo said teachers were doing everything possible to keep students safe.

"Teachers are going to be sanitizing in between classes as students come into the class and leave the class. All the desks are socially distanced and I will have a computer in front of me for those students who have decided to opt out," Fajardo said.

According to Randall, only about 20% of students chose to continue attending virtually.

The school also added a full-time, on-campus nurse.

The school day looked different Monday, with a shorter schedule, two different lunches and pods and additional testing for athletes who were better-adjusted.

Student athletes have been conditioning on-campus since September.

One of those is freshman Neil Hennessey, who plays water polo.

"I feel really safe 'cause every week we're getting COVID tested and so today after school ... I'm getting COVID tested," Hennessey said.

Athletic director Alan Clinton said all 13 teams would have to work around each other.

"You're not gonna have soccer, football and lacrosse all out on the field at the same time. Each one has a specific time frame that they're gonna be on that field with their specific group in pods, working on what they need to work on," Clinton said.

With only a few months left in the school year, seniors like Jesus Melgoza were just excited for the chance to say goodbye in-person.

"We're trying to take advantage of everything," Melgoza said. "It's our last year here at Servite and now we're trying to make the most of this, so being able to be back on campus fully feels great."
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