By JENNIFER OSBORN
When Helix students and staff left for spring break in 2020, no one had any idea that most would not return to campus for many months. A small number of students and staff have been in person since October, but the majority of students have remained in distance learning. With San Diego County recently entering the “red tier” in the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, in-person instruction will be available to all students following spring break 2021.
In the distance learning model in use since the beginning of the school year, students were able to come on campus for academic support, placed in “small cohorts” — small groups of students who only interacted with those same students while on campus. The new hybrid schedule allows students to remain in distance learning, if they so choose, while allowing others to attend their classes on campus one day a week. Classes will be taught to all students online via Zoom two days a week. Then, beginning March 30, students with last names beginning with the first half of the alphabet will attend class on campus on Tuesdays, and the remaining students will attend on Thursdays.
For freshmen, this will be their first time attending classes on campus. In order to assist freshmen get ready to come to campus for the first time, Helix ASB (student government) has a few things planned:
Campus Tour Video – freshmen will receive a campus tour video during spring break to show them all the important places to know about campus.
Freshmen 101 FAQ – ASB will also be sending out an information sheet with important information about activities, athletics and the Helix community.
Freshmen Community Forum Webinar – ASB will host a community forum for freshmen students and families to share more information and answer questions before on campus learning and support begin. This will be a great opportunity to hear from current students at Helix and get last-minute questions answered.
Additional opportunities for all students include athletics, which resumed in January; as well as the ASPIRE program, which is Helix’s after school program, offering a multitude of activities. In addition, the Grade Level Team for the class of 2021 will host “Senior Activities” for 12th graders interested in attending with their classmates. Other extra- and co-curricular activities may be offered with safety modifications in place, and staff are working hard to make as many of these available as is feasible. While these activities are an important part of the high school experience, safety is the primary focus of the return to campus.
All on-campus activity will require adherence to guidelines provided by public health officials, including, but not limited to, daily health screenings and check ins, the wearing of masks or other approved face coverings, social distancing, the use of hand sanitizer when entering and leaving classrooms, daily disinfecting of classrooms, the use of outdoor spaces whenever appropriate, and upgraded ventilation in all buildings. Recent staff development sessions have focused on trainings for safety protocols so staff can help ensure a safe environment for all.
The Helix Administration is grateful to the students, staff, parents, and community for all of the input, patience, understanding and perseverance during the past year. They look forward to serving the Highlander student body for the remainder of the year.
— Jennifer Osborn writes on behalf of Helix Charter High School.