HOLTVILLE — As schools prepare to welcome students back to distance learning, teachers at Holtville Unified School District will have the option to instruct either remotely or in their classrooms on campus.
“The teachers are very happy that they have the option,” said Lee Austin Quarcelino, head of the Holtville Teachers’ Association.
Classes are expected to resume throughout the district on Aug. 17, with all students engaging in live online classes from their homes. Teachers, however, will be able to return to campus and use their classrooms and other school resources to help facilitate their live lessons should they choose.
“The option to work from home or school was a decision that the both the Holtville Teachers’ Association and the district came up with working together,” said Quarcelino.
HUSD Superintendent Celso Ruiz did not return repeated phone calls or emails seeking comment, and district board President Kevin Grizzle had no comment on the decision, only acknowledging that teachers and faculty have worked hard this summer to make the first day of school possible for students next week.
Holtville High School Principal Anthony Arevalo did not respond to calls or emails by deadline.
The option to teach from home or on campus has alleviated some stress for local teachers, however, they are still very much in prep mode as they gear up for the fall school year.
“The Holtville teachers were doing live interaction with instruction at the end of last school year and now we are just taking it one step further,” Quarcelino said. “I feel that most teachers are just concerned with making sure they are prepared and ready to go that extra step.”
Holtville parents were informed in a letter from the district that unlike the hastily assembled distance-learning plan put in place last March when the pandemic broke out locally, the fall session is expected to differ for many schools given specific guidelines and expectations issued by the state on how schools operate their distance learning.
It was reported in a school preview story from Aug. 6 that in accordance with the state, a minimum amount of instructional time for different grade levels has been directed, with three hours instructed for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten, three hours and 50 minutes advised for grades first through third, and four hours expected for all other grades.
“One big shift this fall will be that (all high schoolers) will experience live online classes with their teachers,” Arevalo said in a previous story. “They’ll also have the same amount of class periods; they will just be 30 minutes each.”
These minimum time frames will include both live interaction between teachers and students, as well as homework and independent learning, according to a Holtville Unified press release.
Holtville High students’ school schedule will generally include live interactive lessons in the morning, a break for lunch, followed by independent homework with teacher consultation time available in the afternoon if necessary.
“It’s our hope that by starting live online classes in the morning, it will give our students, teachers and community a sense of normalcy,” Arevalo said last week. “It’s a big shift, but live classes should still be able to allow teachers to show presentations, call on non-volunteers, check on students’ understanding and have them write and turn in assignments,” explained Arevalo.