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CUSD waiting for red tier status before bringing back students
CVHS campus empty
Empty Ceres campuses like Central Valley High School could see the return of students by April if Stanislaus County is upgraded to the state's red tier program. - photo by DALE BUTLER/ Courier file photo

Ceres Unified School District officials say they are looking forward to welcoming all students back to classrooms – as soon as “safely” possible.

“Please be assured that we will do so with the guidance and recommendation of health officials, in collaboration with the Stanislaus County Office of Education, and with health and safety protocols in place,” CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel said. 

Public high schools and junior highs have yet to reopen for partial in-person learning 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.

Advocates who want California schools reopened immediately point to the low incidence of COVID-19 cases among children and negligible death rate.

Hughson Unified School District will return students to campus five days a week beginning April 12.

“Public Health recently updated their guidelines which allows for merging student cohorts, as long as we space desks four feet apart and continue to adhere to the other health and safety protocols, this includes all students on campus wearing face coverings,” wrote Supt. Brenda Smith on the district website.

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.

The state uses a four-tier color system for reopening. Stanislaus County is currently in the more restrictive purple tier with an adjusted COVID case rate of 15.7 per 100,000 as of yesterday. Reclassification will take place once the number drops to seven per 100,000.

“If current trends hold, the county will be re-designated to red tier sometime later this month,” said Beth Jimenez, communications specialist for CUSD.  “Once we’re in red, we’re allowed to reopen the next day. We’re just waiting for the numbers to go down.”

That reopening would come as the 2020-21 school year winds down.

Students in grades 7-12 will resume in-person instruction on a hybrid schedule.

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.

Wednesdays will be distance learning days for all.

“The secondary hybrid schedule reduces student mixing by minimizing the number of students on campus at a time,” said Siegel. “In the coming weeks, families of secondary students will receive additional information including start date, confirmation of group assignment, and bell schedule.”

CUSD reopened its elementary campuses for partial in-person learning last November.

Students attend school in one of two groups. Group A attends classes in person on Mondays and Thursdays. Group B attends classes in person on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Regular bell schedule is being followed.

All public schools in Stanislaus County were closed from March 19 through the 2019-20 spring academic year to help minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“As we look toward brighter days ahead, please help keep COVID-19 rates moving in the right direction by continuing to practice preventive measures such as wearing a mask, washing hands often, staying 6 feet apart from those not in your household, and avoiding gatherings,” Siegel said.