Mariposa Unified students adjust to in-person learning

MARIPOSA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Students of all ages are back in the classroom in Mariposa County.

It's been a transition that's not been without bumps. Just this week, a high school student tested positive for COVID-19.

That school district superintendent said the infected child is now in isolation and on homeschooling. All other students that came into contact with that student are also currently in distance learning, and the campus is following proper health department protocols.

Mariposa County is one of the few districts across the state with students K-12 back in the classroom.

"What's interesting about Mariposa is being one of the first districts to reopen. We're kind of under a microscope, and people continue to ask how are you doing it?" said Mariposa Unified Superintendent Jeff Aranguena.

It's been three weeks since students came back for in-person learning, and due to the county's yellow tier status, they are one of the first districts to bring back high school students.

"The students have been very good in terms of the procedures and policies we have in place," said Mariposa High School Teacher Brian Moczygemba. "We do check-ins every morning. we have mask rules that students follow."

Staff members say getting ninth through 12th-grade students back in the classroom took significant planning.

"On any given day a high school student is rotating between three or four classes, they're going to come into contact with anywhere between 40-60 of their peers, but our goal is to mitigate the spread of the virus if it happens and mitigate our risk," explained Aranguena.

High school students are in a hybrid model, attending in person two days a week, but the littlest learners have experienced some significant changes as well.

"There were so many pieces of the puzzle; we had to start with changing traffic patterns because of temperature checks and health surveys and staggered pick up and drop-offs," explained Mariposa Elementary Principal Erin Vereshagin.

School officials say seeing their students first thing in the morning makes it all worth while.

"That's my favorite time of the day; I get to see the parents and the kids," added Vereshagin. "We're the first person they see in the morning; we get to greet them, tell them we love them, and we're happy to have them here."

Over 80% of students across the district are back for in-person learning. Online learning is still available to students as well.
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