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School year kicks off today with more distance learning
Matthew Hutsell
Matthew Hutsell, assistant principal of Mae Hensley Jr. High, hands out books to students in a drive-thru registration event in the school parking lot.

Summer vacation ended for Ceres Unified School District K-12 students on Aug. 11 and the 2020-21 school year kicks off today with remote learning due to state imposed coronavirus restrictions.

CUSD’s Distance Learning plan will rely heavily on the use of online educational tools such as Google Classroom, Zoom Video Conferencing and Clever. The district has provided all of its students with Google Chromebooks.

“We really miss our kids,” said Central Valley Principal Carol Lubinsky. “We really want them back on campus but it’s just not the right time for that.”

Pupils from Ceres High and Central Valley wore protective masks when they dropped off paperwork, picked up class schedules and books, but took them off to pose for student photos during registration days leading up to the start of the new school year.

“In the past, we’ve done it all in one day,” Lubinsky said. “This year, we did it in two days to manage social distancing. We didn’t have as many people. We didn’t have long lines.”

“Our teachers have put a lot of effort into preparing their lessons to ensure our students are learning at a high level,” she added. 

Mae Hensley Jr. High and Blaker-Kinser Jr. High both hosted drive-thru registration events last week. Warrior Roundup was staged on Aug. 5 and 6. Shark Attack was held on Aug. 4 and 5.

“It’s a new challenge,” Mae Hensley Jr. High seventh-grade social studies teacher Mike Corsaut said of the distance-learning format. “It’s going to be tougher for some kids. It’s easy to get distracted if you don’t have someone to keep you focused.”

“This year, we’re holding everyone accountable to get their work done,” he added. “It all counts.”

No date has been set for the reopening of schools for in-person learning.

“We will continue to work closely with our county public health department to ensure that this happens as quickly as conditions allow, but it is not known at this time when reopening will be permitted,” said CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel.

“None of this should be politicized,” Corsaut said. “The safety of teachers, students and families should come first. We have to err on the side of caution even though it’s a tough call. We’re trying to do what’s best for kids. Our district is doing a great job.”

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.

Ceres High School library
Ceres High School library media clerk Ashley Delagrande (left) and Ceres High Doghouse clerk Louise Amaral process students through the registration process for the new school year – which begins today.
Jasmine Vega
A masked Jasmine Vega holds a sign directing Mae Hensley Junior High students to fill out registration forms for the new school year.