What will in-person learning look like for middle and high school students?

Many junior high and high schools plan to create a hybrid-learning model with two days of in-person instruction and two days of distance learning a week.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While students have been at-home distance learning, secondary school administrators have been busy preparing for their return.

Campuses have been transformed into color-coded pods to limit group interaction and help with contact tracing. Half of the desks in classrooms removed for social distancing and plans have been put in place for isolation rooms in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. Many junior high and high schools plan to create a hybrid-learning model with two days of in-person instruction and two days of distance learning a week.

"Students on campus will be in person with their teachers in the classroom having live instruction and those that are at home will also be joining in via distance learning so the students will be learning the same materials," said Dr. Carolyn Hoffman, the principal at Sierra Vista Junior High School.

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Every classroom in the Hart school district in the Santa Clarita Valley is now equipped with an IQ Air scrubber that uses Hepa filters to clean the air, plus the heating and cooling ventilation in every building has been opened up to allow for maximum air flow.

If coronavirus cases continue to drop, Sierra Vista Junior High in Canyon Country thinks their 1,100 students could return to campus on the hybrid model by March 22.

Students will see a renewed emphasis on mental health. "Our teachers have continued to do check-ins with their students during every single lesson. We have QR codes that all the students have access to that they're able to scan immediately if they need support from a counselor. We will be able to make sure that any student that's in any type of crisis will be able to get support right away," said Dr. Hoffman.

"Our older kids are hurting too and we're seeing that in terms of depression, lack of motivation so all the more reason to get them back," said Richard Beck, the principal at Bishop Amat Memorial High School.

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After nearly a year of distance learning, the impact it has had on students' education is far-reaching with data showing that many children have fallen behind.

Bishop Amat Memorial High School, a private catholic school in La Puente, says students haven't fallen behind academically during distance learning.

"A big concern is going to be getting them readjusted to being on campus. A year is a long time in the life of an adolescent. A year of the high school experience that just didn't exist other than the academic side of things," said Beck.

And then you have schools like Alliance Virgil Roberts Leadership Academy, a South L.A. charter middle school that's part of LAUSD. They've decided to finish the rest of this school year at home because parents don't feel it's safe enough yet and distance learning has been a success.

"It wasn't, as I said before, as hard of a lift because we utilize technology at Alliance Virgil Roberts already. When we come back, we're not going to throw away all of these things that we've done," said Joy May-Harris, the Principal at Alliance Virgil Roberts Leadership Academy.

Students who have struggled will be assessed on campus in the coming weeks so classrooms are ready to welcome them back at a distance, wearing masks.

"We want them to understand that they're going to be safe. Kids are resilient. We're going to make sure any learning loss is made up for and our students are still going to be on a trajectory towards college," said Joy May-Harris.

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Reflecting an end to the anxiety that many students have experienced over the past year, a Redondo Beach fourth grader cried for joy when her mom told her she'd be going back to school soon.

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