Education Spotlight: Atwater Elementary School District welcomes kids back to school

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

More and more local kids are back in school for the fall. This year, "Back to School" is taking on a new meaning.

Landon Burke spoke with the superintendent of the Atwater Elementary School District about their return to the classroom.

Landon: You found ways to serve students in person throughout the pandemic. Would you tell me a little bit about that?

Dr. Sandra Schiber: Of course, most districts we all prepared last summer to open on some type of hybrid or full instruction with some protocols in place. And then on July 17 (2020), the governor announced that we would have to open distance learning. We had prepared for it. So then in September, when the county moved into a tier that allowed us to open, we were ready, so we opened. Then when the spike hit, we were still allowed to stay open. So we stayed open. We served about 75% of our students on a half-day model. Proud to say that not one spread of COVID happened really prepared us for this year because our protocols are pretty solid at this point. So opening did not create a lot of anxious feelings or a lot of confusion. I think we just kind of rolled right into this year with more students, of course, so that's a challenge, a little bit of growing pains. But I think just following the protocols, and everyone being on board with those protocols really kept the district safe. We were able to serve again, little over 75% of the students last year, only a half a day, but it was nice.

Landon: So tell me, how are parents feeling about having their kids back in school?

Sandra: It's pretty exciting, actually. We're out and about here. We started last Wednesday. Every morning most administration is out at the school sites and just get constant, 'thanks for opening' ... 'my kids are so excited.' To hear the students now out on the playground is exciting. It's awesome, and it's what should be happening. I think our community built a lot of trust last year. By opening and doing it, what we considered 'right and safe.' I think that built a lot of confidence and trust. Yeah, things are going well.

Landon: Dr. Schiber, my last question is, personally, what's your favorite part about having students back?

Sandra: It's it's hard to say one thing because this is my 36th year in a profession that I have loved, but I would have to say it's the energy that the children bring, you know? I mean it's a special field that we work in here with education. You know where else do you have this gift of a child, you know, bringing positivity to your life every single day? So I would say that children's energy, and excitement of the teachers. They love their jobs too.
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