Hayward Unified hosts drive-thru orientation to welcome back students, families

The Hayward Unified School District partially reopened Thursday morning, welcoming brand new youngsters who never started school in the middle of a crisis.

In the coronavirus era, back to school has a whole different meaning. 

Thursday was the first day of school for kindergartners at Park School, one of Hayward's four year-round elementary schools. 

Day one was a drive-thru orientation, where teachers got to meet and greet brand new students and their parents. 

There were predesignated stations for families to pick-up needed school materials and submit requests for any and all the technologies needed for distance learning if they can't afford them. 

"They'll have an opportunity to receive a Chromebook and they'll be able to let us know if the need a hotspot," said school district spokesperson Dionicia Ramos. 

For kindergartners, it was all new. For one fourth-grader, it was a bit offputting. 

"I'm feeling just a little bit uncomfortable that I'm not going to be able to like play with my friends. But, I want to see them and know that they'll be safe," said student Georgiana Sierra.

Though technology is a breeze for small children, teachers have had to prepare for a new way of teaching through training and tutorials since last March. 

"The Hayward School District has been working hard on technology and putting things together to make it easier for the teachers and the families as well," said bilingual teacher Argelia Ramos 

"We've been offering teachers additional training and we're going to have continued professional development," said Dionicia Ramos. 

Before conducting actual online classes, there will be a series of virtual sessions with parents, children, staff, and teachers. 

"We are really trying focused on trying to build these experiences where the focus is on building relationships and building communities," said district spokesperson Ramos. 

Distance learning will continue as dictated by the science and data of coronavirus. 

"Everyone who is working with the school district really, really cares about all of these students," said Ramos. 

Adding Pia Macchiavello, "We want to do it in the right way and, you know, and hopefully open up schools when authorities tell us it's safe to do so." 

Returning to the classroom seems to be a long way off.