After 13 months of locked gates, desolate hallways and careful preparations, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School welcomed students back for hybrid learning on Tuesday. Junior Trevor Doherty, who was on campus on Tuesday, went back in hopes of returning to a sense of normalcy.
“I decided to return because I was tired of being home,” Doherty said. “I felt trapped. It was boring and I didn’t really want to stay [home] for the rest of the school year so I decided to go back to school.”
L.A. Unified School District high schools have partially returned to on-campus learning as of this week and approximately 30 students returned to the DPMHS campus on Tuesday on the first day that the campus opened to students.
The rest of the student body chose to resume their usual remote learning. Students who returned to campus were confined to small cohorts in an assigned classroom and attended classes over Zoom.
Students, like sophomore Christopher Jacobo, were eager to go back to school in the hopes of getting back into a learning environment.
“I find it easier to learn while in school because you’re kind of known to always focus in that type of environment,” Jacobo said. “It really helps me learn any subjects I’m trying to learn.”
DPMHS has implemented several safety measures throughout the campus. All students and staff who returned to school on Tuesday were required to test negative for COVID-19 in the previous seven days. This information was tracked using the LAUSD Daily Pass. In addition, everyone on campus was required to wear a mask and social distance at all times. These safety protocols will continue through the end of the semester.
“I think [the safety measures] were very well implemented,” Jacobo said. “You can tell that the school really wants the students to be safe and I feel pretty good knowing the school really cares about this pandemic.”
Schedules for both remote and in-person classes have changed. Students who decided to remain virtual had class from 8:30 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., with advisory being their first class in the morning. This was a shift from the previous schedule of starting advisory at 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. These students will have that schedule every Tuesday through Friday.
Students who chose to return for hybrid learning had class from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will have that schedule every Tuesday and Thursday. Hybrid students will remain home on Wednesdays and Fridays.
“Getting used to the new schedule was an adjustment,” DPMHS Librarian Greta Enszer said. “We’ve all been used to very particular times and now these new times are a bit of an issue to get used to. My advisory students said it was better than they thought it was going to go [and] I agree with them.”
Many students opted not to return to campus in person. Freshman Daisy White made this decision due to safety concerns. Her grandfather contracted COVID-19 in January and was recently in the hospital. This circumstance was one of the main factors that caused her to stay home, even though she doesn’t enjoy most aspects of distance learning.
“I decided to continue to do online because I don’t want to go back and risk my health and then get my family sick,” White said. “I just don’t feel like a month of school is worth getting [my grandpa] sick in the hospital.”
Regardless of mixed feelings that students and teachers have about the on-campus learning model, many agree that this is a step in the right direction toward what they call normal. The DPMHS community is hopeful and looking forward to the future.
“We’re slowly easing back in,” Enszer said. “Right now, I think the whole system is being reconfigured, so we’ll see how the fall comes.”
Teachers were happy to have students back in their classrooms, even if it’s only a handful of their advisory students.
“It feels very liberating to have a separate place to work,” math teacher Tuan “Duke” Huyhn said. “I can focus on being just a teacher. It’s really good to see my students again.”
Naamah Silcott contributed to this report.