Newport-Mesa Unified Students Return to School in Sunshine After Tropical Storm Hilary

Newport-Mesa Unified Students Return to School in Sunshine After Tropical Storm Hilary

Parents pick up their children at Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

8/22/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

The sun showed up to greet Newport-Mesa Unified students on their first day of school Aug. 21 after a brief visit from Tropical Storm Hilary over the weekend.
District parents said they monitored the news for signs of extreme weather but were otherwise prepared to drop their kids off for another year of learning.
“We were watching the weather and noticed that by the end of the day on Sunday, the weather would clear up by Monday and [the storm] wouldn’t really affect the first day of school,” Jessica Golden, who has an 11-year-old and 6-year-old in the district, told The Epoch Times. “And that was nice because we got to go [into the classroom with our child], which is not something that we get to do anymore in the mornings or after school. It’s really good to be able to go in with them on the first day.”
Alex Bond, the father of a six-year-old and a four-year-old in the district, told The Epoch Times that he was more nervous about his children’s first day of school than about the recent tropical storm.
“The storm was not really a big one, just a bit of rain,” he said. “But for the first day of school, I’m nervous. My kids are excited.”
Parents pick up their children at Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Parents pick up their children at Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Though Newport-Mesa Unified returned to in-person instruction in 2021 after schools shut down for much of 2020 due to COVID-19, the pandemic lingered on many parents and students’ minds.
At Paularino Elementary in Costa Mesa, many students are experiencing their first year at an in-person school after spending the past several years learning at home due to the pandemic.
Winona, a 4th grader at the school, returned to campus for the first time since preschool on Monday after attending a virtual private school from kindergarten through third grade, according to her parents.
“I had a great first day of school!” Winona told The Epoch Times. “I love it so much. I’m going to come back every day!”
Winona said her favorite part of school, so far, was an activity where she got to learn more about her classmates’ backgrounds and share her own.
“I love my classmates and my teachers especially,” she said.
A gate enclosing Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A gate enclosing Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Golden, the parent with the 11-year-old and 6-year-old, told The Epoch Times she was glad schools were once again open, and that her children struggled with online learning until they returned to on-campus school a couple of years ago.
“Being alone has kind of sheltered [my kids] a little bit,” she said. “It’s been a little bit of a challenge but my youngest is especially excited for school.”
There were 18,000 students registered for the 2023–24 school year across the district’s 32 campuses, according to district spokesperson Annette Franco.
However, the total attendance number for the first day of school was not immediately available.
A pedestrian sign outside of Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A pedestrian sign outside of Paularino Elementary School, of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Aug. 21, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Meanwhile, Santa Ana Unified and Orange Unified also held their first day of school on Aug. 21 without any interruptions from the storm, while Capistrano Unified—which began instruction last week—also remained open.
However, Los Angeles Unified—which also began instruction last week—announced their 439 school campuses would be closed Monday due to the storm, but re-opened doors on Aug. 22.
Despite the school closures, Los Angeles Unified held “Grab and Go” meal distribution stations at 15 school campuses across the district, acknowledging that many who struggle with food insecurity rely on the district’s free meal service for students.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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