Students across the Santa Ynez Valley will make a return to full-time schedules and in-person instruction starting this week and next.

"We're back to our normal time, and we're excited about our students' return," said Dr. Steve Seaford, superintendent of Solvang Elementary School District. "We're also returning to our normal procedures, for the most part."

Solvang Elementary School students, grades K-8, will rejoin their peers on campus to begin a fresh academic year on Thursday, Aug. 19.

Approximately 585 students are enrolled, Seaford said, noting that the number "is about where we left off last spring."

"There's been a relatively strong interest in students coming into the district," he added.

Lompoc Unified schools ready to welcome back students for in-person learning

Leading the charge to repopulate campus classrooms were Los Olivos School District and Santa Ynez Valley High School District students, who returned to their schools Thursday. 

Buellton Union School District, which includes Oak Valley Elementary School and Jonata Middle School, will begin next week on Wednesday, Aug. 18, as will Ballard Elementary School District.

Similar to other area campuses, Santa Ynez Valley public schools are no longer required to offer a hybrid learning model, however, an independent study option is being made available to students whose health may be put at risk by in-person instruction. The passage of Assembly Bill 130 on July 9 requires that school district provide an independent study option.

According to Seaford, only two students in the Solvang district are enrolled in the third-party virtual program being offered.

"We're doing everything possible to ensure teachers can focus on children in the classroom," Seaford said.

Updated COVID-19 protocols will remain in place for all public school campuses, based on recent Public Health guidelines, that include enforcing mask wearing while indoors. 

Teachers and staff also will continue to encourage students to wash hands frequently and distance while eating, Seaford said.

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Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record. 

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