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Virginia Parks School staff engages students with parade
Vir Parks parade
Teachers and the school mascot parade in the Virginia Parks School neighborhood on April 1.

A second school from Ceres Unified staged a social distance parade to lift the spirits of students and families who will not be allowed to return to campus for the remainder of spring due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

On April 1, employees from Virginia Parks drove through neighborhoods near the elementary school with positive messages written on signs and the back of their vehicles.  

“There were more than 50 cars,” Principal Jennifer Backman said. “Almost every one of our staff members participated. The most enjoyable part was seeing the enjoyment on everyone’s face. It lifted the spirits of the students. It filled the emptiness we’re feeling in our hearts.”

School clerk Maninderjit Basra and Secretary Annette Schopp organized the route for the parade, which lasted 40 minutes.

“We really missed our students,” Backman said. “That was the reason behind it (the event). It’s really critical to stay connected with the kids. It’s a whole new world for them.”

Carroll Fowler Elementary reconnected with students and families during its March 24 parade.

Ceres Unified and the other districts in Stanislaus County extended school closures from May 1 through the 2019-20 academic year last Wednesday after receiving guidance and directives from State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond and Governor Gavin Newsom.

There were 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Monday night.

When public schools closed on March 19 to combat the spread of the coronavirus, just two people in Stanislaus County tested positive.