Following pause, Yreka elementary schools return to in-person learning

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
Jackson Street School and Evergreen Elementary are both part of the Yreka Union School District.

Students in the Yreka Union Elementary School District have returned to the classroom.

Classes at Evergreen Elementary and Jackson Street School resumed on Monday, Sept. 28, using a hybrid model, superintendent Chris Harris said.

In the model, students attend every other day as part of Red and Gold cohorts in grades K-8. The students in the Transitional Kindergarten classes attend every day, although they're still on a shortened time schedule, Harris said.

The district went to online only Sept. 11 after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. They were asymptomatic, said Harris, and their names will not be released. The tentative plan was to continue distance learning until Sept. 25, and then resume in-person school the following week, which turned out to be the case.

The schools began the year with distance learning and had just gone back to in-school learning when the positive tests came back.

More:Two Yreka school staff members test positive for COVID-19

"A school is not the same without the students," said Evergreen Elementary School principal Amy Dunlap. "The students have been so thankful to be back in class with their teachers and friends."

Harris said having students back in school is more effective and connectivity issues make online learning a challenge.

Schools can resume at school districts in Siskiyou County that choose to do so because of fairly low numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

While they are using the hybrid model for the foreseeable future, Harris is hopeful they can eventually have students at the school five days a week.

He commended the staff and teachers for doing such a good job keeping kids engaged during this trying time.

"The teachers have worked extremely hard working the students and guiding them," Harris said. He added that he appreciates the patience and understanding of families.

"We're all in this together," he said.

Dunlap agreed with Harris that online learning can be a challenge, especially for younger students and parents. 

"The younger students need a lot of support from families to do their schoolwork and guide them," Dunlap said. "Many of our parents work full-time jobs and trying to juggle work and school is not an easy task."

Dunlap said that this is a temporary situation and it won't last forever. 

"We are making the choice to make the best of what we have and have a positive attitude," she said. "My theme with staff this year is "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." We all have bracelets with a lemon charm that we wear to remind us to make the best of our situation. It gives you some sense of control over the situation once you realize you have the power over your own attitude. Positivity is a choice."