Editor, Ceres Courier,
As schools begin opening in the city of Ceres the question surfaces “How do I feel my child’s school has done during the pandemic?”
Back in March as the coronavirus numbers began rising, the schools were closed almost immediately. As of March 19 all schools in our district were closed in an effort to slow the transmission of the virus to protect children, staff, and citizens in our community. Ceres Unified School District made their decision on school closures approximately one week after San Joaquin County’s closures. The district had anticipated this to be a temporary closure, and school was supposed to go back in session mid-April; however, the infected rate began to rise. The district was optimistic about students being able to return with each passing month. It was a situation that the school district had to play by ear. With each new date set to reopen, the pandemic continued to hit Stanislaus County at a rate that the community didn’t anticipate. It was supposed to be a temporary closure rather than a 7-month closure.
Since the beginning of the school closures in Ceres, there was a tremendous amount of effort from all staff at Sinclair Elementary. My child attends Sinclair Elementary, so these are based on my experiences with them.
Throughout the closure, there had been some choppy waters with distance learning. It was a very new way of learning that hadn’t been done before. As time progressed –especially since the new school year began – distance learning at Sinclair was put together very well. They had a plan going forward and made it very accessible to their students. Children were provided with material to help ensure their success and involvement in their education, such as notebooks, paper, pencils, erasers, crayons and whiteboards.
I cannot begin to express my gratitude and admiration to all of the teachers and paraprofessionals who have adjusted to a new way of teaching, yet still making it fun and educational for their students. Their best efforts were put forth and it didn’t go unrecognized. My child entered first grade this August via distance learning. She is on the spectrum and has high functioning autism. With that being said, it’s been a challenge to get her engaged during online schooling. They’ve offered extra help to students who are in need of it. Teachers and paras have been more than patient with their students. From working one on one with their students to making it an enjoyable experience with breaks times in between designated times for distance learning. Not to mention, all schools have done a phenomenal job ensuring students are not left hungry. The schools have provided meals for students from the beginning to end of the school closures. Free breakfast and lunches are extremely important, and I truly applaud all of the staff who has made this experience a bit easier on both parents and students.
Special Education Director Kalene Blevins and principal of Sinclair Elementary Shane Hulin have been a phenomenal help, and are prime examples of those who have the best interest in the students. I’ve had exceptional help from both in regards to help with my daughter. Any questions or concerns I had, they answered them quickly and helped put our family at ease.
The Ceres School District has provided a lot of support, such as providing various resources for parents to access virtual guides for Chromebook setups, and troubleshooting. They’ve also provided assistance with low-cost internet options for families in need.
Pre-K - 2nd grade are returning for in-person instructions the week of November d. 3rd - 6th grade are returning the week of November 16. Superintendent Scott Siegel states on the CUSD webpage, “Secondary schools (7-12) 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.”
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