Juniper School

Juniper Elementary School Principal Tammy Fleming guides a student to the front entrance at the school on April 6 as teachers and the school’s Jaguar mascot cheer.

A combination of excitement and nervousness.

That seems to sum up the feelings of some students and their parents in the Fontana Unified School District as in-person instruction returns this week for kindergarten, first, and second grades.

Llaney Castillo, the mother of two students at Juniper Elementary School, said her first-grader was glad to be back at the school site after the year-long shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis.

"I'm not as excited as my little one is, but I know that kids need social interaction, so I'm OK with it," Castillo said.

She said that from her perspective, it was "a little scary" for schools to reopen, considering that she didn't feel she received enough information from the district office regarding the health and safety precautions for the reopening.

"But I like the teachers at Juniper and I think they're really on top of the situation," Castillo said.

She added that her fifth grader is looking forward to being back on campus starting the week of April 12, when the rollout continues for grades 3-5.

All of the students and staff members will be wearing masks and practicing social distancing, the district said.

Tara Castro is a parent of two children who are "super excited" about the prospect of being in the classroom and seeing their friends at Juniper next week.

"At first, I was a little apprehensive," Castro said. "But now I feel confident that the school is doing everything it can to make it safe for the students. They have installed plexiglass and they have hand sanitizers; they have taken all the necessary precautions."

Castro said that having her children learn virtually from home has been challenging. "My third-grader struggled with the technology at times," she said.

More than half of the FUSD's students have opted to be at school, while the rest are sticking with the Distance Learning program.

At the beginning of the day on April 6, the Juniper students were greeted by the school's Jaguar mascot in addition to teachers and Principal Tammy Fleming.

"It's a fabulous opportunity for kids to come back to school. Our parents have been very gracious and enthusiastic about their return," Fleming said. "We've prepared very thoroughly for students to reenter campus in a safe and welcoming manner. We're very excited to see them again. This has probably been the best day of the entire year."

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