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Schools engage students during closure
• Students will complete academic school year from home
Freddy Rojas-Pacheco
Carroll Fowler students Israel and Freddy Rojas-Pacheco pick up books.

Carroll Fowler and Adkison Elementary schools found creative ways to pass out books to students last week amid the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of schools through the school year.

School districts in Stanislaus County previously extended school closures through May 1.

Carroll Fowler’s drive-thru library was open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the same time during breakfast/lunch pick-up, on Thursday.

“We want our kids to do as much learning at home,” said Principal Emily Harry. “Reading is the foundation of everything. The more they read, the better their comprehension and words per minute will be. We recommend reading 30 minutes a day.”

A total of 150 books were checked out. Previously-read books were swapped for new ones. Parents filled out forms for specific book requests prior to pick-up.

“We want to keep our kids and families engaged,” said Harry. “We’re having our next one (drive-thru library) after spring break. I hope the word gets out and more people sign up.” 

On Thursday, Adkison Elementary gifted free books to 160 families provided by the Stanislaus County Library in partnership with the BRE/National Book Foundation.

The book giveaway was staged during the school’s meal drive-thru time (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.).

“It’s a good way to keep the kids excited about reading,” Principal Stephanie Pimentel said. “The response from parents was amazing. They were very appreciative. The kids were excited. It was priceless seeing the smiles on their face.”

The Stanislaus County Library has provided books to Adkison at its open house, swamp meet and literacy night.

“We have a great relationship,” said Pimentel.

In January, Adkison installed a $3,000 book vending machine in its library.

Prior to the school closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, each teacher handed out one token each week to a student deserving of a book prize for exhibiting good behavior.

“We have such a focus on literacy at this site,” Pimentel said. 

Students will continue to earn tokens while completing the academic school year from home.

“Now, we’ll have teachers select students from their classes and they’ll pick up books during meal service time,” Pimentel said. “We’ll have some options.”

Ceres Unified and the overwhelming majority of other school districts in the state of California will keep their campuses closed for the remainder of the spring semester to combat the spread of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus.

“Although the extension of school closures and implementation of social distancing practices has created challenges and hardships, we know this is the most effective way to slow and disrupt the transmission of this pandemic,” Ceres Unified stated in its coronavirus update notification to families on April 1. “All of us as parents, teachers, district staff, administrators, and community members are facing these challenging times together.”

When public schools closed on March 19, there were just two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county.

As of Monday evening, there were 81 positive tests.

“We now have further guidance and directives from State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond and Gov. Gavin Newsom to keep schools closed through the end of the current school year,” Ceres Unified officials said. “With this new information and an abundance of caution, the Ceres Unified School District, in cooperation with the Stanislaus County Office of Education and other Stanislaus County school districts, is taking a safety-first approach and immediate action to extend school closures through the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“We appreciate the incredible resilience with which CUSD students, families, and staff have responded to this ever-evolving situation, and want to assure you that the 2019-20 school year is not over. Between now and spring break, we will provide additional information to facilitate the continued transition to distance learning instruction for the remainder of the school year. Please know that CUSD teachers, administrators, and staff are here to provide support throughout this crisis, and we will continue to work collaboratively and diligently to engage with students and parents and ensure students feel connected to school.”

Ceres Unified will continue to provide breakfast and lunch for students 18 and under at school sites and other locations, plan for high school graduation ceremonies even if they’re rescheduled to a later date, assist with school enrollment for 2020-21, and update its website with additional resources and materials to support parents.

“In the coming days and weeks, we will provide information regarding graduation, grades and transcripts, scholarships, and summer school,” Ceres Unified officials further stated.

California’s 977 school districts serve more than 6.2 million students.

adkison books
Adkison Elementary School Assistant Principal Roberto Gil and Principal Stephanie Pimentel distribute books in a drive-thru event designed to promote literacy.
Adkison Elementary School student Abel Torres
Adkison Elementary School student Abel Torres gives a wide grin after picking up a new book during a drive-up distribution arranged last week.