San Juan Hills High School saw a morning that looked more like the fall of 2020 as students in the Capistrano Unified School District’s hybrid program returned to on-campus instruction full-time for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring.
“It looked pretty normal,” said San Juan Hills High School Principal Dr. Manoj Mahindrakar. “That was the cool part. It was full, it was vibrant.”
To celebrate the occasion, San Juan Hills ASB student leaders had planned a clash of the classes event and dress up day, as well as decorated the campus. Each class had a team color and flag posted on one of four buildings in the campus quad.
“It was heartwarming to see students connect with each other,” Mahindrakar said. “There were mini reunions taking place. That was really encouraging to see.”
Previously, students were sorted into two cohorts, with one cohort coming to campus two days a week, and the other cohort on campus the other two days each week. One day remains a virtual day with all students learning from home. Four days a week now, more than 1,200 students are on campus, he said.
About half of the students at San Juan Hills High School are continuing to participate in the 100 percent online option offered by Capistrano Unified School District.
Capistrano Unified is one of few school districts in the state that have been open for any amount of in-person instruction since the fall.
“The main thing I heard from parents, students, and teachers, is that it just feels normal,” Mahindrakar said. “That, in itself, is just a celebration.”
San Juan Hills High School, with the rest of the Capistrano Unified School District, is hoping to open five days a week for in-person instruction in fall semester — a return to pre-pandemic ways.
“We continue to be ready,” Mahindrakar said. “This is a great example of that. The site and the district have been ready so when we got approval we were ready to get back to it.”
Scroll down for photos of the first day without cohorts at San Juan Hills High School.
Click here for photos from Aliso Viejo Middle School’s first day without cohorts, and here for photos from Capistrano Valley High School.