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Struggling junior and senior high students return to campus

On Feb. 16, Ceres Unified School District welcomed back to campus small groups of high school and junior high students who were struggling with online education.

“It’s based on need,” CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel said on the return to in class learning. “The school sites are selecting the students who they feel will benefit the most.”

“We’re providing an alternative location where there’s an adult presence and the Internet connection is good,” said Beth Jimenez, communications specialist for CUSD. “That could make a difference for students who might be struggling from distractions at home.”

The total on-campus population at each school site may not exceed 25 percent of the enrollment and no more than eight students will be allowed per classroom.

Onsite teachers will not provide assistance as they’ll be busy interacting with their own students via Zoom. Students will have the option to complete their distance-learning from their respective school sites up to four times a week, excluding Wednesdays. Each session lasts three hours.

“We’ve been doing this at Argus High School since November,” he added. “And it’s worked just fine. It’s safe and structured. I personally do better at work than home.”

Ceres Unified School District 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.

A regular bell schedule is being followed.

Siegel said secondary schools (7th through 12 grades) 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.

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.

The re-opening schedule is contingent on Stanislaus County meeting COVID-19 progress 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 with Stanislaus County currently in the most restrictive purple tier.

“We’d love to bring every kid back,” said Siegel, “but we can’t. We’re not allowed to open secondary schools to a hybrid model until the county is in the red tier for five days. We’re not anywhere near red right now. I don’t know if it will happen this year.”