(KERO) — Buttonwillow Union School District’s motto is “one town, one school, one community,” but the challenges their unduplicated students have faced during this pandemic are unique.
“It’s been hard for some parts because you’re not getting the same learning being online than being in school,” said Luz Ventura, a student at the Buttonwillow Union School District.
Luz Ventura is an 8th grader in the district. She’s also an English learner with parents who don’t speak English. Among Buttonwillow Union School District’s population of 350 students across preschool through 8th grade, 94.5% are unduplicated students. These are students who are English learners, receive free or reduced-priced meals or foster youth, as defined by the California Department of Education.
These populations have been heavily impacted in their learning throughout the pandemic.
Now, Ventura is back on campus.
“I’m grateful to be back in class,” Ventura said. “Being able to talk to my teachers and other students even though we’re six feet apart, I’m able to communicate with them and my teachers if I need help.”
Since the end of October, Buttonwillow Union School District, Superintendent Stuart Packrard said, has resumed in-person instruction.
Since January, 55% of their Preschool through eighth grade have been back on campus, following a six-week break from in-person during the holidays.
“It’s really the small districts that have been able to get back on campus, and it’s really because everyone knows everybody,” Packard said. “I’m not going to claim I know anything about opening a large district, but this is an example of how it can be done.”
How it’s been done: Safety measures like social distancing, sanitization, PPE, optional weekly testing, and now vaccinations.
Packard said there have been two cases on campus one in January and in February, and zero transmissions on campus.
Catering to kids from lower-income families, they’ve received PPE from their family resource center and organizations like United Way.
“I believe we have PPE that’s going to get us through 2030 but that’s okay!” Packard said.
45% of BUSD parents have chosen to keep their kids at home.
Marisol Alvarez is one of four appointed virtual instruction teachers at the district. She’s been using different methods to make sure her 5th and 6th grade students keep up with their studies virtually.
“Acceleration time, which is for students to receive extra support. If they need extra help with reading, which most of our students are EL, and that’s the struggle,” Alvarez said. “We provide that for them. We also have extra small group instruction for them as well.”
Quarterly the district checks in with parents to see if they want to learn in-person or not.
Packard has projected that by the end of March 80% to 85% of their staff will be vaccinated.