West Ranch enters hybrid learning bringing students back to campus.

It’s been more than a year since West Ranch’s last day of fully in-person instruction: Mar. 13, 2020. A few days later, LA County declared a stay at home order kicking off months of closures and social isolation.

Finally, after a full year, California’s COVID-19 tracker site, COVID19.ca.gov, reported that LA County’s COVID rates dropped low enough to reach the “red” tier on Mar. 12, 2021, meaning that schools could resume in-person instruction.

Mar. 29, 2021, marked the first day of hybrid learning. In preparation for students’ return, West Ranch has changed dramatically. According to our Assistant Principal Mr. Wobrock, one big change made to campus is that “desks have been spaced out to allow for social distancing [within classrooms] and everyone has to wear masks pretty much everywhere they go.”

Additionally, all classrooms have been outfitted with air purifiers, the quad has been subdivided into one way pathways to facilitate social distancing, directional signs have been posted around the school to guide students and ID cards must be worn at all times. Though West Ranch is not exactly the same as it was back in 2020, many students and staff are eager about returning to campus.

West Ranch junior Allison Hwang said, “I’m looking forward to seeing my teachers and everyone else. I haven’t been able to interact with them much because constantly emailing them back and forth was pretty tiring. I hope to get to know more staff [and] students and maybe even see some of my favorite teachers on campus.”

Allison Hwang on campus for the first time since Mar. 2020

Likewise, West Ranch senior Nathan Barazza is excited to be back on campus.

“Being an active person, I’d rather go to school [and] interact with my teachers,” Barazza explained, “Online learning made it harder to interact with my teachers because they had to keep up with every single student.”

However, Barazza also expressed feelings of concern saying, “I myself have some people in my household that must not get sick…especially with the COVID virus, it makes it a lot more dangerous and it’s just the safety that’s my biggest concern.”

Concerns about contracting COVID are common among students as they return to school. Fortunately, COVID spread has been very low at reopened schools across California due to their numerous safety precautions. Jesuit High School, a school in Sacramento with similar reopening procedures as West Ranch, has had partial in-person learning since October and,  according to the Los Angeles Times, they have only identified 40 active cases since opening. In the past few weeks the number of active cases found at Jesuit High School has dropped to zero, mirroring the plummeting COVID rates in California.

With this knowledge in mind, the pros outweigh the cons for many. Barazza went on to say, “I’m looking forward to really just being able to interact with the teacher and immediately ask questions without having to message and unmute myself.”

One way directional sign guiding students to classrooms

As this transition is new and unknown to all, West Ranch teachers look positively to the future of heading back to campus in a world recovering from a pandemic. Offering some reassurance, West Ranch US History teacher, Mrs. Arrowsmith, shared her optimism with The Paw Print and her thoughts on West Ranch’s preparation for hybrid learning.

“I feel good. There’s a really great team on campus; our administrative team is really dedicated to making the on-campus experience as good as it can be, while implementing all of the rules and regulations handed down by the LA County Department of Health and the California Department of Health. I feel confident, comfortable and very excited for students to return to campus,” Mrs. Arrowsmith explained with a smile.

Given that over the time of virtual school, students and teachers have discovered the type of learning environment they work best in, Mrs. Arrowsmith concluded that the “the benefits of coming back onto campus will vary, depending on each student’s and adult’s own needs.”

West Ranch continues to welcome students back on to campus with new modifications, making the on-campus experience to be as safe and comfortable as possible.  Students can expect a great end of the school year as summer is quickly approaching. Be sure to wear your masks and social distance, Cats!