With the dreaded cloud of the coronavirus hanging overhead, the 2020-2021 school year is getting under way for some local districts that serve students who live in the Fontana area.
The only exception is the Fontana Unified School District, which has delayed its opening date of instruction until Aug. 24.
Chaffey Joint Union High School District (which includes Etiwanda High School) and Colton Joint Unified School District begin on Aug. 5, while the Etiwanda School District starts on Aug. 7 and Rialto Unified School District kicks off on Aug. 10.
All of the schools in San Bernardino County (and in most of the state) are starting the year with an online learning model in order to maintain health and safety and avoid the COVID-19 threat. The goal will be to eventually transition back to the traditional in-person model at some point.
"Our staff is excited. They're well prepared to welcome our students back," said Shawn Judson, the superintendent of the Etiwanda School District.
In a recent online interview with Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren, Judson said the district did not want to postpone its reopening.
"Our kids have been out of school for almost five months now, and we thought that pushing that start date back any further than where we are is just going to delay instruction for our students. We'd rather get started, get those kids into instructional models, and then open up for them physically as soon as it's safe to do so," Judson said.
Almost half of the students in the Etiwanda district live in Fontana, Judson said, and the rest live in Rancho Cucamonga.
Judson said that the virtual learning model implemented this fall will be an improvement over the distance learning scenario that took place from March to May, when some students were not fully engaged in learning.
"Parents told us they were frustrated under distance learning because there was sort of a lack of motivation for their children,"
Judson said. "They had a hard time getting their kids to really want to participate as much as they really needed to."
But with the start of the new school year, there will be much more accountability, Judson said. Attendance will be taken, assignments will be graded, and teachers will regularly check on students who are not participating.
In addition, Etiwanda is providing additional online resources for parents, who can visit etiwanda.org for more information.