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Back To School For In-Person Learning Takes On Extra Importance For Some Students On Autism Spectrum On South Coast

Triton Academy in Ventura County is not only back open for in-person classes, the school focused on those on the autsim spectrium is using its new campus for the first time.
KCLU photo
Triton Academy in Ventura County is now back open for in-person classes and is using its new campus for the first time.

A new crop of students are not only back in-person, but are the first at new Ventura County campus designed for those on the autism spectrum.

It’s back to school in person for a growing number of campuses on the Central and South Coasts. Back to school has special meaning at a Camarillo school which caters to kids on the autism spectrum, Triton Academy.

Sarah Galloway is Principal of Triton, a school serving third through 12th grade students from throughout Ventura County. She says they have more than 70 students.

Kids on the autism spectrum typically have big issues with social skills, and it’s harder to address that with remote learning. Having the students back on campus takes on an extra importance compared to traditional schools.

17-year-old Connor Partington is a Triton student who says distance learning just wasn’t the same is being there in person. The Thousand Oaks teen says he’s grateful Triton is again open for in-person instruction.

Back to in-person instruction has taken on a special twist for Triton, because it’s back to school at a brand new place.

It’s operated by the Ventura County Office of Education. Triton operated for years at an old elementary school campus in Camarillo. When the school district needed the campus again, the school moved to temporary facilities at Camarillo Airport while a new campus was built.

Now, the school has its own permanent home. It’s a $15 million dollar, 30,000 square foot complex on Adolfo Road in Camarillo. Teachers worked hard to prepare students to their new surroundings, producing YouTube videos and taking students on virtual tours so they would be comfortable for in-person classes at the new school.

Galloway says they’ve taken a number of safety measures to deal with COVID-19 concerns ranging from creating a comprehensive management plan, to rules regarding social distancing, mask wearing, and extensive cleaning.

Many parents say they are thrilled in-person instruction has resumed for their kids.

Charles Guibord of Thousand Oaks is the father of a 17-year-old Triton student. He says trying to take care of his son, while managing his sales job was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. He would sometimes take the teen along on sales call.

Teacher Adam Underberg says its great to have his high school students back for in-person classes. He says the kids are excited, and that they can do a much better job in person.

Having the socialization of in-person instruction is important for all children, but it takes on extra important for these Triton students. It builds their social skills. It’s something which is lacking among most kids on the autism spectrum, but which is critical for living everyday life in today’s world.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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