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By C. Jayden Smith

Drawings and words of encouragement written in chalk along the sidewalk greeted and led students into Clarence Lobo Elementary School as they entered campus for the start of another school year on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Families and their young students, such as Leo Lekaj, a third-grader, were also welcomed to celebrate the launch of the 2022-2023 academic year by participating in a red-carpet-style photo op at the entrance of the local elementary school.

“I’m excited about seeing my friends again and learning,” said Lekaj, whose favorite subject is science.

Principal Laura Kindron Coy, who is entering her third year as the school principal and fifth year overall at Lobo, said on Monday, Aug. 15, that the first day of a school year is always the start of the “best year yet.”

“Every year is so much better than the one before it, and we end that year thinking, ‘Wow, that was the best year ever,’ ” she said. “So, the first day of school is just the start of nine months of fun and learning and community and love.”

Since the beginning of summer, the Lobo staff members have prepared extensively for the students’ return, according to Kindron Coy.

“We’ve installed a new sensory path this summer, we’ve deep-cleaned the school, we had kids here for YMCA, (and) teachers have been setting up their classrooms,” Kindron Coy said. “I’ve been doing extensive work in planning parent programs to support our parent community here at school.”

The school’s vision statement includes a goal to become a Professional Learning Community, a process of including action research and job-embedded learning for educators, by 2023, and to implement a Multi-Tiered System of Support, enabling all students to receive the exact support necessary to succeed.

Kindron Coy said the staff has developed collaborative teams to work through the process to achieve those goals.

She added that she is excited for the preschoolers and kindergarteners to enjoy new playground equipment, and to bring back Native American history lessons as a part of the school’s cultural proficiency work.

The lessons will be in partnership with the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation 84A, native to Orange County.

Unlike previous school years since the pandemic in 2020, masks will not be required on campus, per regulations set by the California Department of Public Health.

Kindron Coy said that throughout the year, if staff and students display symptoms of COVID-19, the school will continue to test and send individuals home, as well as enforce quarantining if necessary.

The indoor school mask mandate for California was lifted in April of this year—marking a shift from the previous school year, when students and educators were required to wear masks indoors while on campus.

However, masks are still recommended under CUSD’s COVID-19 safety plan for the current school year. Other CUSD safety guidelines include encouraging families to screen children, requiring staff to self-screen, posting signage reminding students to wash their hands, and the school frequently cleaning surfaces.

CUSD is also changing air filters on a regular basis and providing “adequate” air flow, according to their safety plan.

Social distancing and vaccinations are not currently mandated.

Collin Breaux contributed to this story.

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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