The Ceres School Board unanimously approved a plan Thursday to re-open Ceres Unified School District’s elementary campuses for partial in-person learning this November.
“We look forward to beginning to bring students back to campuses as early as next month based on current COVID-19 projections for our county,” said Supt. Scott Siegel. “In addition to a hybrid schedule in which students attend school in one of two groups on alternate days to minimize the number of students on campus at a time (with distance learning on the other days), students will return in grade-level cohorts beginning with pre-K through second grade.”
“The district has done a really good job trying to come up with the best plan,” added Brian de la Porte, board trustee. “They’ve included all shareholders by communicating well. They’ve been really proactive. I know everyone is eager to get back in the classroom. But safety has to be the No. 1 priority. That’s what’s most important.”
To allow for social distancing, a hybrid schedule will be used to minimize the number of students on campus at a time, beginning when elementary schools reopen.
“Secondary schools (7-12) will take longer to reopen safely, as their potential for the spread of illness is higher due to much larger student populations and intermingling of students changing classes multiple times each day,” said Siegel.
In-person instruction for pre-kindergarten through second-grade students is slated to begin the week of Nov. 2.
In-person instruction for students in grades 3-6 is slated to begin the week of Nov. 16.
Students will attend school in one of two groups. Group A will attend classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays. Group B will attend classes in person on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Regular bell schedule will be followed.
“I like the hybrid model,” de la Porte said. “It’s the best plan for the situation we’re in. It’s better than just distance learning.”
The re-opening schedule is contingent on Stanislaus County meeting COVID-19 benchmarks, as determined by state and local health officials, and is subject to change should conditions change.
“It will be great for our students and families if we can open up by our target dates,” de la Porte said. “But there are no guarantees. The numbers in the county have to trend down like they have been.”
Ceres Unified created a Reopening & Safety Plan with input from advisory groups of families and staff to reflect guidelines that will be in place to support the safety and well-being of students and staff during in-person instruction, and to provide additional information regarding the academic day.
The 17-page plan addresses topics such as campus access, face coverings, social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing procedures, classroom logistics, and daily schedules and attendance.
The plan could be updated as conditions and recommendations change.
“The past months have brought many challenges, and as much as I would like to tell you that things will be back to “normal” soon, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go before that is the case,” said Siegel. “If your child is struggling, we want to help. Please contact your child’s teacher or school to access the academic and mental health resources that are available.”
“In addition, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency and Office of Education want to remind residents that community-wide COVID-19 testing is a critical step to reopening schools and businesses.”
More information on testing is available at http://www.schsa.org/corona-virus/testing/