Administration Waiting to Reopen Campus Once County Returns to Red Tier

Cayde Schmedding, Staff Writer

Throughout the winter break, the Miramonte administration has created the cohort and continued to troubleshoot problems for reopening to allow for a quick transition into hybrid model once Contra Costa County returns to the red-tier. 

“I absolutely believe that going back to school is essential for student learning,” principal Julie Parks said. 

Since the summer of 2020, administration has worked to establish a more COVID-safe campus in preparation for students’ return. Administration has already redesigned classrooms to accommodate for six feet of social distancing between students and ten feet between students and teachers, and the administration upgraded the ventilation system to constantly supply fresh air. Recently, the administration focused on procedural problems such as exiting and entering classrooms, students socializing during lunch, and bathroom usage. The administration and counseling buildings will also change to promote social distancing.

“I feel safe with Miramonte’s choice to go back once we’re in the red-tier for two weeks as long as students are wearing masks and not being stupid,” junior Rowan Blacklock said.

Associate Principal Sara Harris and the school counselors sorted students into four groups: A, B, AC, and BC, depending on their desire to either go to school or continue to participate in distance learning. Groups A and B will return to school on an alternating schedule while groups AC and BC will remain home, but if they choose to return, they will join their respective groups. Harris divided the groups alphabetically but also accounted for special adjustments and the limited room capacity. 

Legally Miramonte can reopen anytime, because Miramonte had on-campus classes before the new shelter-in-place order in the form of educational aid and arts classes; however, due to the recent surge of cases, the school will remain closed until Contra Costa County reenters red-tier; then, after two weeks of preparation, students that signed up for a hybrid schedule can return to school.

“Students will have a two week period to switch once the hybrid schedule begins. This gives families and kids some flexibility,” Parks said.

Around 80 percent of Miramonte students opted for a hybrid schedule on the survey sent out in early December. During the break, 40 students decided to switch from one schedule to another, with most moving from online to hybrid.

In the hybrid schedule, students go to school for two consecutive days with their teachers then stay at home for two consecutive days while the other group goes to school. Mondays will remain asynchronous. Online students will Zoom into their respective group’s classes.

“I hope that the students not doing the hybrid schedule will still get attention from teachers,” junior Ruben Kucheyev said.

Parks attributes Miramonte’s rapid ability to create a hybrid program and update the school to the enthusiasm of Miramonte staff.