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Nueva Vista Language Academy Vice Principal Casey Rivas, left, and Principal Joshua Herrera hand out souvenirs from a virtual field trip to France.

Nueva Vista Language Academy's virtual field trips were featured in The Wall Street Journal this past week, after a reporter read a similar story on DelanoNow.com, district officials said.

The story by Maya Goldman was posted to the national newspaper on Thursday, according to Nueva Vista principal Joshua Herrera.

Delano Union School District students, parents and school officials were also interviewed by the newspaper.

The overall article featured students and parents from schools in Florida, Indiana and Long Beach, Calif.

Teachers using virtual field trips is not really new, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic pushing most schools across the world to online instruction, they have grown in popularity.

Web traffic for VirtualFieldTrips.org has increased 30 times recently, said founder Dale Petersen, who produces travel videos that take students to places including the Amazon rainforest and Rome’s ancient ruins. Its subscriber base has gone up from about 1,000 teachers and schools last fall to nearly 10,000 today, she said.

At Nueva Vista Language Academy, an elementary school in Delano, students haven’t returned to in-person classes, but they have gone to Hawaii and France on virtual field trips this fall.

In Hawaii, they took a video tour of the Dole Plantation to learn how pineapples are grown and harvested. Fourth-grader Olivia Trigo said it surprised her to learn pineapples sprout up from the ground, growing on the central stem of a plant with long, sword-like leaves.

Nueva Vista Language Academy students also explored an erupting volcano via Google Arts and Culture, a platform with content from more than 2,000 museums and archives. The virtual exhibit started from the bottom of the mountain, and the view allowed students to travel the tubes that transport lava through the volcano, eventually leading them out onto its top, said Vice Principal Casey Rivas.

“It was really cool because we were able to see the lava flowing and a bunch of magma,” said sixth-grader Mya Garcia.

At lunch time, Mya, Olivia and their classmates were driven to school to pick up Hawaiian leis, books and fresh pineapples in front of the school, which was decked out in Hawaiian décor. Principal Joshua Herrera and other administrators dressed up in leis and floral prints.

“My favorite part was probably getting to eat the pineapple,” Olivia said.