Back to normal? Students and teachers navigate school as in-person learning returns

Local News

MADERA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Children all across the Central Valley are headed back to classes Monday morning as many students are getting their first look at schooling in 2021.

Jill Derkalousdian, vice-principal for Parkwood Elementary School in Madera says the new school year is a chance to investigate new ways of connecting to students in an educational setting.

“We learned a lot in the last year about engaging our students,” Derkalousdian explains. “Through Zoom it was really difficult sometimes to get them engaged.”

Parkwood will be broadening students’ elective class opportunities as well as increasing physical education and library time.

“We’re really focused on bringing fun back to school,” Derkalousdian explains.

Derkalousdian says the focus is to get students back to school and engaged after a year of remote learning, although the classroom setting will still have unfamiliar elements. Masks will be required indoors, parents will be filling out a health screener for their students every morning, and staff will be doing the same.

While normalcy is the goal, Liz Zarco, a parent at Parkwood Elementary Students says she has mixed feelings describing the return as “nerve-wracking.”

“They get to go back, pretend like everything is normal again,” says Zarco. “I know it’s still there, the pandemic is still there.”

School administration has a plan for positive cases of COVID-19 which includes contact tracing, notification of students who may have come in contact with a positive case, and quarantine protocols.

Liz Zarco says the new protocols haven’t stunted her kids’ enthusiasm.

“They’re just excited to get back to normal,” Zarco says.

A feeling held mutual by the administration at Parkwood.

“We’ve missed those little faces,” Derkalousdian says.

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