“Back to school” has an especially positive meaning this year in the Los Banos Unified School District, as many persons noted during the August 11 district school board meeting

It was the first school board meeting since classes for the 2022-23 academic year started on August 9 and 10.

Board president Anthony Parreira reported there were large turnouts at back-to-school nights prior to the first days of school. Parents and kids, he said, were excited to be there. Children enjoyed finding their seats, and many teachers had packets for the children to take home.

As noted during the meeting, schools have gone through drastic changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. After being on Zoom for months, then on a hybrid schedule where students spent half of the week at home and the rest at school, for the new school year overall it’s back to in-person education.

“It’s great to be back,” said Jennifer Wilken, Los Banos Teachers Association member.  “I’ve heard from many other teachers over the last few days how wonderful it is to be back with our students and to see their smiling faces.”

More technology will be used in the classrooms in 2022-23, building on lessons learned during COVID. Though technology had been a struggle throughout distance learning during COVID, teachers are now turning it into a strength, able to integrate both  “paper” and “screen” teaching and learning in their classrooms.

During back-to-school evenings, according to Parreira, several teachers used QR codes, which parents could click on their cell phones and download information, which they were able to walk away with, instead of carrying home sheets of papers.

Progress on Measure X bond projects was another topic of the board meeting, including the renovation of Loftin Stadium. Amer Iqbal, the district’s Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, explained after the meeting that the renovation process is beginning, highlighted by a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for August 25 at 4 p.m. at Loftin Stadium on Seventh Street. The public is invited to attend.

The renovation will take place in three phases, Iqbal said. The initial process of renovating, labeled Phase 1, includes a concession stand, a building for team meetings, restrooms and a solar unit to modernize the stadium.

In Phase 2 the installation of artificial turf will take place along with the rebuilding of the track. In Phase 3 a sound system and stadium lights will be installed to improve the experience of players and fans.

Prishaa Vala