Noticeable increase in attendance occurs after cohorts merge

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Students attend Heather Klein’s period 5 math class in-person

Karely Molina Martinez staff writer 

After running a cohort system for three consecutive weeks, the BHUSD administration worked to install a new schedule which would combine both cohort A and B students starting April 26 after county guidelines no longer required cohort groups.

With an average of 26% of cohort A students returning on their assigned days and an average of 19% of cohort B students returning on their assigned days, the average number of students returning on combined cohort days increased to an average of 28%. On some days, the number of students returning during no cohort days doubled from students who would attend either cohort A or B. 

“You’ll see 12-14% of students who could come on those [cohort]  days were coming. Now that we’ve merged those cohorts, the percentages have increased,” Assistant principal of student services Dr. Jill Hunt said. “We’re right around 30% each day of students coming who could come. We have about 1100 students who could come on any given day. We’re averaging in the 300 range.”  

With the increasing number of students returning to campus, the administration is working to follow all county guidelines in order to allow the maximum number of students to return.

“With the cohort process, of course we were following all of the expectations given to us through the county, to keep the numbers really low,” Hunt said. “What we started to notice was that so few students were coming each day that we could certainly adhere to the county expectations and allow everybody to come all five days.”

Director of public relations Rebecca Starkins noted that, fortunately for the school, declining COVID cases made the return to school transition easier.

“The timing of the gradual reopening of our schools has aligned perfectly with the extremely low transmission rates in LA County. … We did not see any spike in cases in LA County after spring break which was very encouraging,” Starkins said. 

On campus, principal Mark Mead noticed an increase in students’ attendance after the change in the cohort system when he walked by vocal teacher Ethan Smith’s Madrigals music class. 

“I think the fact that they can practice together must be incentivizing for kids in that class. So there are certain classes where, you know, having it cohorted was almost a disincentive to come. So in classes like that, for sure. I’ve heard anecdotal teachers saying ‘I had 10 kids today, I had 11 kids today,” Mead said. “I haven’t looked at the numbers recently, but it does feel like there are more kids here.” 

Mead also noticed that with the increasing number of students returning, the higher the chance of more students coming back to campus for the first time. 

“I presume that for a lot of our students, the idea that the other kids are here is a major draw,” Mead said. “There were a couple of weeks where it was pretty slim in the number of kids here and I think there are some of our students who don’t mind that, right?  It’s kind of quiet, but I think the vast majority of high school students are social. And the more social our school is, the more alluring it is to get out of bed and put your clothes on and come over here. So maybe it does make sense to me that the idea of more kids here are going to bring more kids here.” 

With more students returning to in-person classes, some students benefit from having a majority of the students in the classroom rather than being split over Zoom. Junior Sienna Wolfe feels that it has been easier to adapt to in person classes as students continue to return. 

“I feel like, before it was the teachers were more focused on the students who came into school and not so much on the students who were on Zoom,” Wolfe said. “But I feel like the more students that come into school, there’s a better balance.”

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