Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Thu, Sept. 23

Hopi High School students back in class with record enrollment of 480 students

Hopi High School school students have returned this year to in-person learning after spending over a year in remote learning. (Photo/NHO)

Hopi High School school students have returned this year to in-person learning after spending over a year in remote learning. (Photo/NHO)

POLACCA, Ariz. —Hopi Jr/Sr High School started school Aug. 13 with in-school learning, practicing safety protocols and with its enrollment jumping to 480 —its highest enrollment in years.

Activities Director Ricky Greer said the theme for school this year is “Welcome Back Bruins.”

“We are doing that. We are just so ecstatic that so many students choose to come back and it’s great to see enrollment going up,” he said.

A survey of the students found that 85 percent are vaccinated and a survey of the staff showed a mix of comfort levels,

between very comfortable or somewhat comfortable, in returning to the classroom

“Teachers wanted to be back in person,” Greer said. “The students struggled last year when we had classes online because they had trouble getting online. The school provided hot spots, but that didn’t always work.”

Greer said it helps knowing that 85 percent of the students are vaccinated. He said the elementary schools cannot say the same because you have to be at least 12 years old to get the vaccine.

“We have a lot of mitigation in place and everything is going well,” he said.

Greer said students, teachers and staff are masked during classes. He said classes take turns going to the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch rather than all eating at one time like in the past.

“We keep everyone from congregating,” he said.

There are also Plexiglas shields on all desks.

At the start of the school year, 30 students signed up to take their classes online, but that number has dwindled down to 15 as more wanted their classes in person. Hopi High teachers are short staffed so students, even though they are on campus, will be taking some of their courses online. This is especially the case for some advanced classes.

The majority of the Hopi Jr/Sr High School teachers are returning, including all the teachers at the junior high. However, on the high school side, none of the teachers in the English Department returned and most of the science teachers did not return.

Greer said some schools, especially universities, have done online learning exceptionally well because it allows for more differentiated instruction and some have used hybrid learning.

“The pandemic hit across the board and caught a lot of schools in limbo. We’re trying to do what’s best for the students and teachers,” he said.

Greer said online learning has great potential, but for Hopi the number one reason it’s important to be back in the classroom is being able to access education.

“The relationship with teachers was missed by the students last year. This will also help them socially and mentally,” he said.

Aside from the return of all sports, Hopi High plans to return all clubs including National Honor Society, Student Council and the music program.

“It will take time to organize it because we didn’t have any last year,” he said.

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