Some Visalia Unified students return to in-person learning

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Visalia Unified School District welcomed elementary students back in the classroom on Monday.

About 2,200 fifth and sixth graders returned to campus for in-person learning for the first time since March 2020.

One parent is excited for her kids but says it comes with some adjustments. Kayla Munoz used her lunch break to pick her fifth-grader and first-grader.

"Thankfully they go in about the same time and get out about the same time, so that helps for me to be able to get them picked up and get them back to where they need to be so I can get back to work," Munoz said.

There are students in Group A with an in-person morning schedule. In the afternoon, those Group A students will return home for Asynchronous distance learning. The Group B students will do the opposite schedule.

While the district says a little more than half of the students have elected to go back to campus, parents like Munoz still worry for their kids' health and safety.

"It still makes you nervous as a parent - are you doing the right thing, should you be doing anything different," said Munoz. "But I feel like it's really good for the kids to be back in the school. My son and daughter did OK on zoom but they do so much inside the classroom - hands-on, seeing the teacher, doing things."

Pinkham Elementary Assistant Principal Scott Kirchman recognizes the setbacks online learning has presented for some students and hopes this is a step forward.

"For some students, it's critical for them to be here, both for the education academically, but the social-emotional side of things has been one of the big feedback points we are getting back from parents that is the missing piece," Kirchman said. "They just struggle to get that connection through the Zoom computer."

Pinkham Elementary fourth-grader Chris Martinez has been back on campus for a month now. He said he's just happy to be back learning with his peers in person.

"Back at school, it could be easier so you could see your friends and say hi and sit at your desk and learn more," Martinez said.

For parents who are essential workers and not able to pick up their kids in the middle of the day, ProYouth offers a day program for students around the city of Visalia and the surrounding districts.
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