SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA) — Some students returned to campus Monday for the first time in months in Simi Valley.
Teachers and plenty of changes greeted students in transitional kindergarten through third grade. The students whose families opted for in-person learning had not been in class since March, when schools across the country closed down to slow the spread of coronavirus.
"I was bored at home, so I'm really happy that I'm at school now," third grader Hucayfa Mirza said.
However, returning to school Monday was very different from the traditional back-to-school experience. Because classes are being kept at half capacity to keep all students and teachers at a safe distance, students have been assigned to morning and afternoon session that last two-and-a-half hours a day. About half of the district's 4,000 families with kids in early grades opted to continue with virtual learning for the remainder of the semester, according to Superintendent Jason Peplinski.
"We've done a lot of mitigating factors in terms of keeping our classrooms sanitized and safe," Peplinski said. "But also the frequency of cleaning, those kinds of protocols that we've had to kind of retrain everybody on."
Returning students are required to undergo a temperature check as they arrive and wear masks throughout the day. And while schools are serving lunches, they have to be ordered in advance, and must be taken to eat at home.
"They have to keep their masks on their face and it's a little different," parent Lindsay Ellis said. "There's no playground time right now, but hopefully soon, that will be back to normal."
The district says its next phase of reopening will bring students in fourth through sixth grades back to campuses at the start of the new semester in January.
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