June 17, 2021
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA--After 402 days of school closures, classroom doors have finally opened to students and staff in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.
The long-awaited spring return to in-person daily instruction launched with kindergarten through fifth grade students on April 19.
Music, balloons, banners, friendly masked faces and socially distanced desks welcomed hundreds of students throughout the district.
Teachers and staff members greeted children with an immediate introduction to the “new normal” rules of mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing.
During first day campus tours, Maple Hill Elementary teachers directed children to hold their arms out like airplane wings to guide the three-feet physical spacing protocol.
“If someone is in your airplane then say get out of my airplane!” said first-grade teacher Ashley League.
Kindergarten teachers turned desks into little Jeeps with construction paper tires, headlights, and personalized license plates to help make re-designed classrooms more kid friendly.
The three-sided plastic dividers served as windshields and side windows as well as sneeze guards.
Youngsters couldn’t wait to take their cars on a test drives while gripping pretend steering wheels!
“I’m so excited to be in school,” shared third grader Leah Johnson in Samantha Trejo’s class, where desk shields were decorated with motivational sayings like ‘Aim for the Stars’ and ‘Focus on the Good.’
COVID-19 infection rates in Los Angeles County dropped enough in weeks prior to allow it to be moved from California’s most restrictive closure category to the second-most.
Educators led simultaneous instruction for in-person “Roomers” and distance learning “Zoomers” for the last six weeks of school.
“I couldn’t wait to get up and come to school and see all of you in person,” exclaimed third grade teacher Lisa Peterson.
Sixth grade cohorts became acquainted with their new middle school campuses before being joined by seventh and eighth grade cohorts on April 26.
At Suzanne Middle School, Language arts teacher Lauri Ujita passed out packs of “We Are O-FISH-ally” Back” goldfish crackers to mark the occasion.
“I wondered how tall the kids were going to be in person!” quipped Chaparral Middle School Language Arts teacher Enoch Choi.
“They’ve really grown!”
The “A” and “B” middle school cohorts returned two days a week on alternating days with remote learning the remainder of the week.
“This is a brand-new experience teaching with my mask on!” remarked Language Arts teacher Jennifer Flannigan about the “unconventional year.”
“I’m not sure how loud I’m supposed to be!”
Physical education teacher Paul Ruiz directed a group in outdoor exercises while also reaching his Zoom learners on a laptop strapped to a rolling cart.
“We’re about to take a lap on the track so I need my classroom to be mobile!” he shared.
High school students returned for all-day academic support with enrichment and socialization opportunities offered during afternoon tutorial periods.
Exclusive Class of 2021 events were offered each week including yearbook signing and movie nights.
Diamond Bar High’s “Senior Centers” on April 30 featured canvas painting, succulent garden, karaoke, paper flower crafting, escape room, and more.
“It was especially nice to be able to see my friends and teachers, some of them for the first time since quarantine started!” said senior Breanna Yang.
“The activities were also super fun as well!”
“It’s honestly been so much fun - I really appreciate the effort they put into it!” added senior Crystal Tsao.
Welcome Back! After 14 months of COVID-19 school closure, students return to school in Walnut Valley USD.
Beep Beep! Maple Hill Elementary kindergartners test drive decorated Jeep desks.
Airplane Arms! Maple Hill Elementary teacher Ashley League shows children how to keep physically distanced.
Maple Hill students find decorated desk shields on the first day of in-person classes.
Suzanne Middle School Language Arts teacher Laurie Ujita marks return with “We are O-FISH-ally Back!” goldfish crackers.
Following distancing protocol, Chaparral Middle School counselor Christina Aquino escorts students to class.
A trio of Chaparral Middle School students head to class.
Chaparral Middle School P.E. teacher Paul Ruiz leads exercises.
Diamond Bar High Class of 2021 members join “Senior Center” activities on April 30.
Seniors head to football stadium for yearbook signing at Diamond Bar High on April 21.