Following Other CA Schools, PVHS Finally Opens Its Doors to Students

Vikesh Dheeriya , Reporter

After a year of distance learning, many high schools in California recently reopened to an in-person format with PVHS, returning April 12, not far behind. 

Most of the in-person schools that have reopened are private schools, while public schools like PVHS would have more restrictions from the government on a possible return. 

Middle and high school need to be in the red, orange, or yellow tiers combined with a new daily case rate of 7 or less to return to any variation of an in-person setting in L.A. County. 

“Humans are social creatures, so safely being around others will bring back that positive aspect into our lives,” Biology teacher Marie Kuhn said.

Mater Dei, a private school located in Santa Ana, CA, returned to school much earlier than most in September of 2020. Mater Dei began the school year with a completely online schedule for two weeks, then switched completely to in-person learning, requiring face coverings at all times, physical distancing, and frequent cleaning and disinfecting. Another major safety change for in-person school at Mater Dei was the class size being divided by last name. 

“The number of peers you see on a normal day is almost cut in half,” Mater Dei junior Xander Assad said.

The COVID-induced changes to in-person school had some benefits to students at Mater Dei. 

“[Because of split classes] I get more one-on-one time with my teachers, which gives me the chance to form a bond between my teachers,” Assad said. Along with getting to know his teachers, Assad’s academic experience “improved tremendously” with his GPA boosting after switching to in-person learning. 

Unlike Mater Dei, PVHS will start by using a hybrid schedule with certain days being online and the other in-person, which brings about the problem of teaching kids the same material online and in-person. 

PVPUSD Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss recently announced that high schools will return to a four day in-person schedule starting April 19, effectively ending the cohort system.

“I am going to maintain the teaching style that I adopted during the pandemic to remain consistent with what students are used to from my class” said Kuhn. “I will, however, enjoy more student engagement and discussion of class content.”

School reopenings still came with the predicted health risks. Although Mater Dei had stringent rules on safety, the school reported 137 COVID cases throughout the school year among the 2,134 student population. While not perfect, students such as Assad are content with how Mater Dei handled the reopening of school.

“I wouldn’t change anything about how my school adapted to COVID-19” Assad said. 

Through physical distancing, mask-wearing, and proper sanitization rules implemented and enforced at PVHS, administration hopes to keep the risk of a breakout as low as possible, as students benefit from an in-person education.

“The benefit for me, personally, is that I enjoy having individual conversations with my students and I look forward to getting to know them better,” said Kuhn.