There were tears from parents and kindergartners alike at Los Robles-Ronald McNair Academy in East Palo Alto as they hugged each other at drop-off on the first day of school Wednesday, Aug. 25.
Some students returned to campus last winter in small, stable cohorts, but with everyone back this school year full time, some of the young students are experiencing their first days in school, having forgone preschool amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex Quezada, principal of the K-5 school, said school staffers feel "excited, hopeful, energized and committed" to the prospect of restoring and strengthening relationships with students and families.
"We reaped the rewards of building strong relationships with students because our student cohorts were smaller, compared to a pre-pandemic year," he said in an email. "This fall, we continued to apply that knowledge and experience and designed the student experience to be more intimate and personalized."
Kindergarten teacher Ruth Cuellar said it's nice to see all the faces, smiles and laughs.
Starting Nov. 1, Ravenswood School District will require vaccination for eligible students in order to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, according to the district's 2021 safety plan. Students who become eligible for the vaccine during the school year will have two months to provide proof of full vaccination before this requirement applies.
If families give permission, the district will test students weekly for COVID-19.
Staff vaccination rates
Ravenswood district staff report a much lower COVID-19 vaccination rate than neighboring school districts. As of Aug. 12, 72% of certified staff (which includes teachers) and 73% of classified staff have gotten their COVID-19 vaccine.
To encourage vaccinations among staff, the district has hosted vaccination clinics at its school sites to facilitate access and "will continue to find opportunities to do so throughout the year," said governing board member Ana Maria Pulido in an email.