Students start virtual back-to-school at Visalia high school

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- University Preparatory High School is one of the first to welcome back their students virtually.

This year getting the classroom ready looks very different for theater arts teacher David Rasner.

"I spent a lot of time just setting up my Zoom, I wanted to get a good camera," explained Rasner.

Instead of arranging desks, he's setting up a camera.

"I wanted to get on my feet, I don't want to sit on a chair all day," said Rasner. "I want to be able to walk, I'm a drama teacher, so if I can step back and people can see my body, I think that's really important."

Without an audience for his theater students, the curriculum is looking different, too.

"You're removing one of the elements of theater. You have space, we have a performer, we have an audience, so what are we going to do without an audience?" said Rasner.

He says some theater classes will look similar to Hollywood Squares, and students will be making their own videos.

While students work from home, teachers are required to be in the classroom physically.

"We thought it was important to have them report, have their materials at hand, having everything there," said Asst. Superintendent for the Tulare County Office of Education, Julie Berk.

"I really enjoy being in the classroom, I need the real estate, and I want to as much as possible separate work from home," said Rasner.

Initially, the district had planned for a hybrid model of learning, but just two weeks ago, they learned they'd be switching to all online, leaving teachers to pivot quickly. Instructors like Rasner say they're ready.

University Preparatory High School has roughly 300 students. Remaining Tulare County Office of Education Schools go back next week.
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