Back to School Night goes virtual for the second year in a row

August 31, 2021 — by Nilay Mishra
Photo by Nilay Mishra (The Falcon)
Caption: Parent booster groups present at last year’s Back to School Night, which took place virtually. This year’s event is planned to be virtual again, taking place over Zoom and Google Meets.

While in-person school is in full swing this fall, Back to School Night will be taking place on Sept. 1 in an online format, limiting parents to meeting teachers virtually in a series of Zoom and Google Meet meetings.

Back to School Night will start at 5:30 p.m. During the first 25 minutes, all parents will join a single introductory webinar in which Principal Greg Louie will give a speech and parent booster groups will give presentations. Afterwards, there will be 10-minute rotations with five minute passing periods in between each of the smaller class meetings. 

During each rotation, parents will click a particular link to join a Zoom or Google Meet meeting and listen to a teacher’s presentation. These links are found in a master schedule matrix provided by the school. Odd periods will be followed by even periods.The decision for Back to School Night to go virtual for the second year in a row was made on the district level, principal Greg Louie said. The main worry was that the extremely contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 would threaten the safety of staff and students.

“There’s a small population of people in our community who are not vaccinated or who are anti-maskers,” Louie said. “There’s concern for their safety and others.”

While an online Back to School Night will reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, Louie expects a reduced attendance, similar to last year. Approximately 95 percent of parents attended in-person Back to School Night two years ago, whereas only about 80 percent attended the event last year, he said. 

One difference between this year’s event versus last year is that Back to School Night ends at 7:40 p.m. instead of 8:10 p.m. The reason for this change is to make the night more efficient, as well as to reduce the amount of time that staff members have to spend at school.

“Many of our teachers live in Santa Cruz and have long commutes,” Louie said. “Ending it sooner prevents them from being at school until 9 p.m. in the middle of the week.”

The second major change is the school’s emphasis on making the presentations more engaging by strongly encouraging parents to turn their videos on during the online meetings.

“Teachers prefer to interact with actual human beings,” Louie said. “It would be nice for our teachers not to have to do Back to School Night on a screen full of black squares. It is a matter of respect.”