Balloons bunched together like white and blue grapes formed an arch above Analy High School’s front gates to welcome its second cohort of students on their first day back in class on Tuesday morning, April 13.

Nearby on Taft Street, Laguna High welcomed back its one cohort of students returning to campus for their second day under the hybrid model of in-person and distance education.

Confetti settled along the curb that Analy students stepped over after being dropped off, a day after the West Sonoma County Union High School District ushered its first Analy and El Molino cohorts onto their respective school grounds for the shift to a hybrid learning model.

The comprehensive schools each bring their A and B stable groups back on alternating days of the week, according to Analy and El Molino’s hybrid cohort schedules.

Like at El Molino, Analy students began their last month and a half on campus gathering with friends and lining up at health screening check-in tents to verify their COVID-19 symptom surveys and have their temperatures read before receiving a wristband allowing them further into the school.

Senior Diana Torres said it was her first time back at school since the end of junior year in 2020, besides occasionally picking up supplies. She said she hopes for a fairly normal graduation where families can cheer on their kids.

“I’m glad to be back and just experience the last few months of my years here. I am moving out of the town, so it’s nice to get that experience here, last few months and get to see some of my friends,” she said.

Distance learning became easier over time as staff urged students to use their resources and stay in touch with their teachers, Torres said.

Over at Laguna High, Principal Allie Greene and Office Manager Kimberly Nyberg checked students back in for their second day of in-person morning classes.

Besides verifying symptom surveys, reading temperatures and issuing wristbands, they passed out T-shirts for school spirit days and invited students to pick breakfast and lunch options that would be free for the rest of the year, according to Nyberg.

The office manager said she also offers a sign-up sheet for students who want to meet with their counselor or get information about transcripts and graduation requirements to ensure that happens and a backpack containing general school supplies for whoever might need them.

“It feels pretty good to be back and not being home all day,” said Victor Herrera, a sophomore. He said this was the first time he’s gone to Laguna in-person, having met his classmates only over Zoom in the past year.

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