#schoolsafety | Capistrano Unified’s Arroyo Vista school focuses on safety in return to classroom – Orange County Register

Arroyo Vista Elementary School Principal Joe McGann got a preview on Tuesday, Sept. 29, of what the return of in-person instruction means to the Wildcats.

He spotted plenty of joyful little ones as he helped take temperatures and dole out hand sanitizer to kindergarten and first-grade students on their return to the classroom at the Rancho Santa Margarita K-8 school.

“I was scanning and squirting,” McGann said with a laugh during a phone interview. “It’s going pretty smooth. The students are so happy to be back.”

Arroyo Vista features about 65 kindergarten and 75 first-graders whose families elected to return to in-person instruction. The school, part of the Capistrano Unified School District, is offering full-day instruction for elementary schools as an option for families.

McGann said the young students followed the health and safety guidelines, donning masks as required. Some of the youngest students can briefly take off their masks and don face shields for activities such as speech therapy, he said. In those cases, social distancing and protective barriers are used and the activities are limited to less than 15 minutes.

Kindergarten student Carter Mather, 5, had a camouflage-patterned mask and a sense of familiarity for his first day. He has been attending school at the site through a YMCA program.

“Because of the YMCA, he felt great,” his father, Graham, said. “He wasn’t scared.”

McGann said the mask-clad parents also seemed happy. He said they followed the guidelines such as not accompanying their students all the way to the door of the classroom, which can be a challenge for parents of young learners.

Teachers also felt a sense of normalcy, McGann said. He said nearly all his staff had been delivering their distance learning lessons from the school campus. “They’re relieved, to be honest,” he said.

McGann said “more and more” parents have been selecting online learning, which remains an option in the district and throughout Orange County.

Capistrano Unified, the county’s largest district with about 47,000 students, continues its phased reopening plan on Thursday, Oct. 1, with second and third graders returning to classroom. Students in select special education programs were the first to return on Monday, Sept. 28.

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