Rather than make introductions from behind a computer screen, Lindsay High School freshmen spent Thursday meeting their teachers in person and getting a feel for the campus for their first day of school.
“Even with masks, it’s so nice to see them in person,” LHS principal George Tapanes said. “And this is our freshmen for our first day, so they have the typical nerves of being a freshman. So just to be able to smile and welcome them is just a great feeling.”
Over the next few days, Lindsay students will continue to come to campus to meet their teachers and pick up materials necessary for distance learning. The school, like all in Tulare County, are required to begin classes virtually while the county remains on the state’s monitoring list for high COVID-19 positive case numbers.
Lindsay students arrived on campus at appointed times and were temperature checked before they could enter. They were directed through the Multipurpose Room where they turned in their paperwork, got a laptop and picked up information packets. From there they got their schedules, then went outside to have their pictures taken and met their teachers.
Tapanes said this first day was important particularly for freshmen who wouldn’t have the help of Link Crew and different programs to give them information on where to go or who to ask for help.
“We’re just making sure, reassuring them, that they can find their way around campus and meet with their learning facilitators. I think that is important for us,” Tapanes said.
In the days leading up to the first day of school, Tapanes and his staff made several videos and posts for social media to explain what would be happening for the 2020-21 school year. Their ability to engage their parents through social media, as well as letters, emails and phone calls translated into having Zoom calls so large they reached their 100-participant maximums in under a minute.
“When you can get over 100 parents in both Spanish and English to show up to your Zoom to meet, that means you’re doing a really good job of getting the word out,” Tapanes said. “And obviously that allowed us an even bigger platform to be more specific with, not just expectation for induction days but for what online learning, distance learning is going to be like and the kind of support parents are going to need.”
As Lindsay gets its students situated with this new school experience, they’ll also be turning a bigger focus to parents and making sure they’re also being heard.
“We vowed that every month we will be reaching out to our families because they’re our partners,” Tapanes said. “They actually have the learners in their home for instructions so we need to see what kind of support they need, how it's going for them and their child – hear their perspective on it. Obviously we’re going to be hearing from our learners but they are going to be a huge part in this whole thing.”