This week the Lakeside Union School District entered its third phase of allowing all students in the district to return to class for for in-person learning at all its elementary and middle schools.
Serving around 5,000 students, elementary schools came back on April 12, shortly followed by middle school students on April 26.
LUSD Superintendent Andy Johnsen said students are back for five days a week full time instruction and roughly 85% of the student population is back and by fall he expects that number to be around the 90% mark. Johnsen said the district is still offering distanced and independent learning models for students not ready to come back for in-person instructions.
“Students will have a full day of class,” said Johnsen. “We adjusted our schedule so that students only have three periods a day. We have been doing this all year to reduce the mixing of students, so we do not have large groups of students mixing in classes and the hallways.”
“We are continuing wearing masks, washing our hands, so we are keeping safe and keeping well,” he continued. “It is great. It feels like our schools are getting back to normal and the students, who are really the heartbeat of our schools, are back and it feels great.”
Johnsen said the LUSD Board of Trustees has been solid and thoughtful through the process of getting students back on campus.
“Our administrative staff, support staff, and our teachers have been awesome in getting through this very difficult year,” he said. “And our parents have also stepped up to make sure that the kids are doing what we are asking them to do so we can all stay safe. Everyone coming together and working together is what has allowed us to come to this point. So, I am very pleased.”
Johnsen said it plans on a robust summer school program, not only for students that might have failed, but also for students who need to get their grades up or feel like they need the extra attention to catch up after more than a year out of in-person classrooms.
“We are staffing summer school classes right now,” he said. “As soon as we know how many teachers are available to teach, and there are plenty, then we will know how many students we can accommodate, and we will start signing up students for summer school.”
Johnsen said the district is finalizing its plans for grade promotions at this time.
“The County has just released guidelines on what we are allowed to do, and what we are not allowed to do,” he said. “I will be putting a message out to our parents very soon on what our plans will be. Each school will have its own unique style, but we will have a district-wide plan on how we will be conducting promotions.”
Johnsen said since students have began coming back to the schools “there have been smiles all around.”
“Everybody is very happy,” he said. “The parents are happy, the kids are happy to be back with their classmates, and our teachers are happy. It feels like normal again. It is really nice. I have been to all of our school sites multiple times this past week and everything is working very well.”