With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, the re-opening of Calistoga Junior-Senior High School has been postponed to the winter semester.
After months of at-home learning, school officials had tentatively decided to open the campus Nov. 30, however, with Napa County moved to the Purple Tier, the option of an on-site hybrid learning has hit another bump in the road.
“The district has been monitoring the COVID-19 cases in our community on a weekly basis to determine a safe date for transitioning our schools to a blended learning model,” said District Superintendent Erin Smith-Hagberg in a letter to parents. The plan now is to try again after winter break, when the second semester begins.
A survey was issued last summer asking parents to choose which learning method they were most comfortable with: at home, on campus, or a hybrid of both. When COVID-19 concerns increased, however, campus and hybrid options were removed, forcing CJSHS to do all of its learning virtually.
Hybrid learning entails students spending one school day per week on campus, staying in a classroom with a small cluster of classmates and taking their usual classes virtually.
Many added health and safety precautions have been put in place at the school, with students required to be in their classroom at all times, wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart from all classmates. Classrooms would also have a limited number of students (around 15) and staff would be attempting to keep siblings together.
Many students and staff members were excited by the prospect of returning to the classroom, yet also skeptical. Eighth-grader Dante Marquez touched on a fear that many parents and faculty members may be feeling.
“I really like the idea of hybrid learning because I think it’d be really useful for kids who need to get caught up on their work. But I think it’s not a good idea to go through with right now because I know a lot of kids won’t take social distancing and masks seriously,” he said.
This school year began with many complications for staff and students alike, with the pandemic, then fire season, and power outages.
Early into the school year when power outages and Wi-Fi issues began, students were struggling to keep up with seven classes in six-hour days. “There are some advantages to at-home learning, like extended break time, flexible due dates, and one-to-one conversations with teachers,” said CJSHS senior Lordan Rosete. “The downside is that as the school year progressed, teachers started to give excessive homework, saying that everything is online regardless of possible student situations.”
When faculty began to see the difficulties for students, teachers made adjustments in homework assignments and weekly check-ins. “The change in schedules is very helpful since students have the chance to not only decompress but to also catch up on school work or get help from their teachers in specific subjects through individual Zoom or Google Meets,” Rosete said.
Despite the opening setback, students have another opportunity to get involved on-campus, as the athletics department has given the thumbs-up on “Fall sports” and will begin practices on Dec. 7.
While games and large group practices will not be allowed, students will be given the chance for sport conditioning and small group practices, determined by coaches to keep contact and risks at a minimum. Fall sports this year consist of football, volleyball, cheer, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, and cross country.
“The rules and regulations are for sure important. I understand that we got to follow them for our safety and I’m trying to look at it in a positive way,” said junior Andrea Villaseñor, who is resuming participation on the volleyball team this year. “It’s unfortunate that the season will be short and we don’t get as much play time but at this point I would take anything just to be on that court. We aren’t going to actually go to practice with equipment until maybe January and won’t play a game until possibly February but I’m thrilled to be back and doing what I love most.”
With the return of sports and the possible return to campus in the following semester, there is the apprehension that new tribulations will rise and affect the opening of the campus, but as CJSHS’s faculty and students have proved this year, nothing will get in the way of a Wildcat’s education.
Saida Morales is a junior at Calistoga Junior-Senior High School.
Editor’s note: Because of the health implications of the COVID-19 virus, this article is being made available free to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. If you’d like to join us in supporting the mission of local journalism, please visit napavalleyregister.com/members/join.
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Senior Spotlight: A celebration of Napa County student athletes
With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register is recognizing senior athletes who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the 2019-20 school year mercifully in the books, The Register wants to give one last shout out to the athletes of the Class of 2020. We wrap up our Senior Day series today with boys tennis and coed badminton.
With the 2019-20 school year mercifully in the books, The Register wants to give one last shout out to the athletes of the Class of 2020. We continue our Senior Day series today with track and field.
With the 2019-20 school year mercifully in the books, The Register wants to give one last shout out to the athletes of the Class of 2020. We continue our Senior Day series today with boys golf, and girls and boys lacrosse.
With the 2019-20 school year mercifully in the books, The Register wants to give one last shout out to the athletes of the Class of 2020. We continue our Senior Day series today with swim and dive.
With the 2019-20 school year mercifully in the books, The Register wants to give one last shout out to the athletes of the Class of 2020. We start our new Senior Day series today with baseball and softball.
Vintage's Andres Solorio wraps up our series on seniors who didn't get to finish their spring sports due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Napa High thrower Quentin Dervin, today's Senior Spotlight subject, got off to a strong start with a personal record in the shot put.
St. Helena's Gabi Vega-Zepeda, today's Senior Spotlight focus, tells younger athletes to cherish their time playing sports.
Claire Sullivan, today's Senior Spotlight subject, excelled in several events during her time with Justin-Siena track and field.
American Canyon's Jude Cummings, today's Senior Spotlight subject, has been a top sprinter and long jumper the past three seasons.
A Senior Spotlight on St. Helena swimmer Ben Gardner, who had hoped to lead his team to a fourth straight conference title this spring.
Karolina "Karlie" Wells, today's Senior Spotlight subject, has been a staple of the Justin-Siena girls lacrosse program since she was a freshman. The three-sport athlete was voted the Braves' team captain this spring.
The South Dakota State signee Emily Dusky is the focus of today's Senior Spotlight. The New Tech student who swims for Napa High was looking to qualify for the CIF State Meet for the third time this spring.
Vintage baseball head coach Rich Anderson felt that pitcher Jake Whipple, the focus of today' Senior Spotlight, was in line to have his best season yet this spring.
A three-year varsity starter for Napa High baseball and today's Senior Spotlight subject, Trent Maher was in line to lead the Grizzlies back from a down 2019 campaign.
Greta Fast, a four-year varsity soccer and softball player for American Canyon, is the focus of today's Senior Spotlight.
St. Helena High baseball star Caleb Jeske, today's Senior Spotlight athlete, was on track to cement himself as one of the best players in school history. Now, with his season canceled, he's finding the silver lining to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Grace Guzman's storied softball career ended prematurely this spring. But the Napa High star and UCLA signee is far from finished in the sport.
A year after helping Justin-Siena's 4x100-meter relay team set a new school record, Blake Hoban had hoped to break more track records.
Calistoga's Laila Elkeshen won a volleyball section title and basketball league crown but had her last two softball seasons cut short.
Sarah Husted, the focus of today's Senior Spotlight, was a defensive specialist at shortstop for the Vintage softball team.
American Canyon baseball standout James Larson had his lengthy varsity career cut short this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said he'll continue his playing career at Solano Community College next year.
St. Helena sprinter Ryan Searl, the school record holder in the 100-meter dash and focus of today's Senior Spotlight, had his sights set on competing at the state track and field meet this spring.
During his prep career, Calistoga's Jesus Rojas-Mendoza never came across a sport he couldn't master. The multi-time all-league and all-county athlete is the focus of the most recent Senior Spotlight.
Today's Senior Spotlight is on Justin-Siena baseball standout Nolan Dunkle, who felt the Braves could have won a title this spring.
Another installment of our Senior Spotlight, featuring seniors whose spring sports were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Napa High track and field standout Kyle Jezycki, the next focus of the Register's Senior Spotlight project, had aspirations of going to the state meet or breaking a school record.
The Napa Valley Register begins recognizing senior spring athletes in the first installment of the Senior Spotlight project.
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